Photo Credit: YouTube
Just this past weekend in the waters off San Juan Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands in Washington State, Kate and Jaycee Butler enjoyed the experience of a lifetime when a few playful orcas interacted with their dog, a yellow lab named Sailor.
The magical encounter with the endangered Southern Residents known as J, K, and L pods, and particularly one adult female, was captured on video from the bow of their 22-foot boat. Though the orcas can usually be seen here daily throughout the summer, this was an unusually positive “Super Pod Day,” with all pod members gathering to dine on the salmon in the area.
The real connection seems to have been with Sailor, who wagged his tail and seemed just as intrigued by the majestic black-and-white creature as the orca seemed to be with his presence. The adult female
turned upside down to inspect the boaters, and even flipped water onto them with her fluke.
Kate Butler remarked, “He didn’t bark throughout this whole encounter, and Sailor barks at everything. He was so excited that when we got off the boat he peed for 10 minutes.”
Dozens of whales were in the area at the time of the Butlers’ encounter, but the female orca that really captured their attention was believed to have been born around 1972 and named K13, or Skagit. She travels with four of her offspring and two of their calves, and was identified by distinctive markings surrounding her eye.