On July 11 we witnessed the T37A pod attack a pod of harbor porpoise just north of Greenbank on the eastern side of Whidbey Island. The hunt started out like many other killer whale hunts do with the black and white predators spreading out and swimming very stealthily along. We could see a pod of harbor porpoise surfacing about a quarter mile in front of them. The anticipation built with each minute of their next 2-3 minute dive. The silence was finally broken when the 6 killer whales started bursting out of the water, speed swimming, towards the porpoise! The Chase was on!
It only took a few minutes before the T37A pod had the porpoise surrounded (possibly 2 of them) and they were circling around it trying to injure the animal/s for the final kill. They did knock the porpoise airborne on a couple of occasions using their powerful tail flukes. T37A, the mom, seemed to linger off to the side while she let her offspring do much of the finishing work on their prospective meal. Even the youngest members of the pod tried to be an active part of the hunt.
Towards the end of the hunt, when it was all but obvious that the porpoise would become lunch, T37A3 came launching out of the water 3 times in a row revealing that he is a boy! Up to this point researchers didn’t know the sex of this 7 year old animal, but this encounter made it pretty obvious! I sent copies of the pictures to researchers in Washington and Canada so that they could update their ID catalogs with the sex of this growing boy for future reference.