Orca encounter

A Freeland family out for a walk last week experienced something they likely won’t see again soon.

While exploring a beach near Holmes Harbor, Darci Schultz and her family were watching a pod of seals playing by a dock on April 7.

The family had just turned to leave for home around 4 p.m. when Darci’s husband, Jim, heard what she described as a loud water spout sound, heralding the arrival of a very different kind of pod.

To their surprise, they were joined by several transient orcas that were swimming under the dock, slapping their tails and spyhopping.

The spectacle, which the Schultz family watched for an hour, was caught by Orca Network volunteer and videographer Rachel Haight and has since gone viral with over 400,000 views on Facebook.

Darci said Haight had told her she had never experienced anything like it during her time as a photographer.

Darci’s daughter Lucy, 10, is featured in the video clip sprinting towards the whales as they play near the dock.

Not normally one to seek the spotlight, Darci said Lucy has been “super happy to be a little famous.”

The pod included T46Bs. Rare pale whale Tl’uk, T46-B1B, was present among the orcas, to the delight of all spectators.

“It was cool,” Lucy said about the experience. “I liked that I saw a baby that was white.”

Darci said the whales were close enough to touch. She thought that they were swarming the docks because of the harbor seals they had observed earlier at the site. Transient orcas, such as the ones they saw, feed on mammals.

“I told the kids, ‘Well I guess tomorrow there’s going to be one less seal,’” she said with a laugh.

She acknowledged their first time seeing the whales at such a close range may indeed be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Executive Director Susan Berta said while the Orca Network has temporarily suspended its real-time whale sighting alerts, she encourages people living in waterfront communities to continue sharing whale sightings with the organization.

Reportings can be made by calling 360-331-3543 or 866-672-2638 or by emailing info@orcanetwork.org and alisa@orcanetwork.org. Information on the date, time, species, amount, location, direction, speed and behaviors is accepted, as are photos or videos.

Orca encounter
Orca encounter