A Decade Long Relationship with T019B “Galiano”

My relationship with Killer Whales started when I was a child for a young girl growing up in Ontario. The water in the Great Lakes was fabulous but I was shattered when to discover that there were no whales in them! I eventually made my way to the West Coast and finally out on the water as a naturalist. The first time I met T019B “Galiano” I was pretty much mesmerized. I think its his sheer size, I’m pretty sure hes one of the biggest animals I ever seen, judging by this dorsal fin and age (he was born in 1995).

I learned that he is part of the T018 group, not exactly sure if the matriarch of that group, T018 “Esperanza “, is related to his mother, T019 “Mooyah “, they may be sisters as they do have constant companionship, then there is T019 his mom and T019C “Spouter ” his brother who is also a big boy.

Its remarkable to see T019B, an animal of that size, hunt and catch food on his own. I was amazed that his mother and “aunt” were letting him, a big, clunky boy, play baseball with seals all by himself (tenderizing the meat as I call it- making it easier for him to consume his meal-which he easily could, his mouth is huge!).

He would play with the animal and then bring it over to his mother and T018. T019C was about 9 the first time I saw this, not very helpful in making kills, with a slightly shorter attention span.

The first time I saw “Galiano” was at the mouth of the Fraser River, about 10 years ago and he was just batting seals out of the air, so remarkable and right away I was drawn to him. The next time, he was alone racing around, fully out of the water briefly and was playing with a harbor porpoise he found hiding in a kelp bed.

He caught it by himself and brought to his mom and T018. I realized after another encounter that I had got a close up spy hop photo and didn’t know until recently that it was him (thanks to the new catalogue for this!). Now his dorsal fin is very broad and tall, with a nick in it so he is even easier to ID. He’s one of the most impressive males I’ve ever seen.

I saw him once with the T101s, another group of boys. They shared a meal underwater, dorsal fin to dorsal fin. I couldn’t identify what they were eating, the flesh was completely torn off, some form of carcass but I could never figure it out what it was. I saw him about two weeks ago, once again stalking the shoreline alone.

T019C is now getting quite large, his dorsal isn’t as broad but quite tall. While the matriarchs are always in charge, and these boys are definitely “mamas boys,” and these older females definitely have it made with these very successful large boys bringing them food. -Selena

This post was adapted from a voice recording in the sixth episode of the Whale Tales Podcast, listen here

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