Killer Whales Attack Gray Whale Near the San Juan Islands

Some excited boaters today confirmed an attack by killer whales on an adult gray by videotaping the encounter. The attack took place southeast of the San Juan Islands while whale watching near Whidbey and Camano Islands. This is the same area that a pod of “transient” killer whales attacked gray whales with a calf that we reported on in an earlier entry.

In a previous blog entry we discussed the difference between the two species of killer whales, transient and resident types of orca whales. In brief, trasients are the species of orca that eats mostly marine mammals and would be the only type expected to attack other whale species.

Today’s attack involved the killer whales charging a lone adult gray whale. The gray whale responded by getting into a defensive posture with its soft belly and throat facing up out of the water so the orcas could not bite them. As the orcas sped towards the gray whale it got so scared it peed! Yes, you could actually see a spurt of urine shooting into the air! Watch the video here.

It appeared that the orcas slammed into the gray whale as you could see it get jolted abruptly upward. Perhaps they were attempting to roll it over into a vulnerable position. It didn’t work, and once again the orcas departed without pressing the attack any further.

Killer Whale Watching by Kayak in the San Juan Islands near Seattle, Washington

Blog Comments

Patch, named for a large whitish area on his flank, has returned to the San Juan Archipelago for some spring feeding while migrating northwards. He has been observed every year for the past decade in the easternmost San Juan Islands. Despite being the victim of the orca attack related above, he remains undeterred from visiting his favorite locations despite transient killer whales known to be in the area again. Patch has proven himself to be a smart, veteran defender when orca whales are on the hunt.

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