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Orca brothers ‘Indy and Amir’ delight Puget Sound whale watchers

Jun 18, 2024, 8:00 AM | Updated: Jun 26, 2024, 4:18 pm

Photo: In recent years, one of the most interesting families for whale watching is the West Coast B...

In recent years, one of the most interesting families for whale watching is the West Coast Bigg's orcas' T65A pod. (Photo: Bart Rulon, Puget Sound Express)

(Photo: Bart Rulon, Puget Sound Express)

In recent years, one of the most interesting families of West Coast Bigg’s orcas for local whale watching is the T65A pod. These killer whales spend considerable time in the Salish Sea hunting marine mammals such as seals, sea lions and harbor porpoises.

This year and in recent years, two brothers — Indy T65A5 (10 years old) and Amir T65A3 (17 years old) — have been traveling separately from the rest of their family. They’ve buddied up and have been cruising Puget Sound together for the last couple of weeks.

“It’s been fun to see these brothers in action,” Puget Sound Express naturalist Bart Rulon said. “The brothers have gone back and forth between getting together with the T99pod a few times and then splitting off on their own again.”

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On Mother’s Day, the duo got whale watchers’ pulses racing as they pursued two of the Sounder gray whales (2557 and 2259) that are in Puget Sound feeding along their migration to Alaska.

“The gray whales fended them off, but it was an exciting moment for sure,” Rulon said.

At some point, the brothers will rejoin their family — which is one of the only groups of Bigg’s orcas to venture down Hood Canal.

Over the past 10 years, the population of Bigg’s orcas has grown significantly.

According to the Orca Behavior Institute, each year more than 200 individuals visit the Salish Sea. On certain days this past April, more than 50 individuals were confirmed present, and over the course of the month, whale watchers were able to document the presence of at least 110 different members of the population.

The Puget Sound Express currently offers tours to see orcas, humpbacks, gray whales and more. The half-day whale watching tours run until December 31. Visitors can expect a four to five-hour day with a wrap-around deck and available boxed lunches. To book a tour, visit Puget Sound Express’ website.

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Orca brothers ‘Indy and Amir’ delight Puget Sound whale watchers