Video has emerged of a group of endangered Southern Resident killer whales interacting with a family dog off the Washington coast, in a moment that his owners called a “once in a lifetime” experience.
The footage was captured by Kate and Jaycee Butler on Sunday, according to Grind TV, from the bow of their 22-foot-long boat. An unusually positive “super pod day” off the San Juan Islands, Sunday saw the arrival of members of all three Southern Resident orca pods in the area as they gathered to feed on salmon. The Butlers’ dog, a yellow lab named Sailor, appeared as intrigued as his human companions at the orcas’ presence, as the whales swam by the prow of their vessel.
“He didn’t bark throughout this whole encounter, and Sailor barks at everything,” Kate Butler observed. “He was so excited that when we got off the boat he peed for 10 minutes.”
Watch this viral video – whale wags “tail” for dog in boat. http://t.co/m1uBKKxAAV pic.twitter.com/WMOMSmQrwG
— FOX 10 Phoenix (@FOX10Phoenix) August 13, 2015
Dozens of whales were in the area at the time of the Butlers’ encounter, according to Pete Thomas Outdoors, but the orca that really captured their attention was a female, thought to be born around 1972 and named K13, or Skagit. The orca, which travels with four of her offspring and two of their calves, was identified by distinctive markings surrounding her eye.
— The Ocean Project (@theoceanproject) August 12, 2015
The Butlers noted that in 40 years of visiting the area during the summer months, they have never had an encounter with the orcas quite like Sunday’s, and don’t expect to do so again. Alisa Schulman-Janiger, a killer whale researcher, confirmed that there was little doubt that the orca was observing the dog and the boat’s passengers. Although the animal’s intentions can’t be known, orcas rarely find themselves in a position to observe dogs, which may have made the canine an object of curiosity for the larger mammal.
“It’s all conjecture, but this orca’s head is up and she’s very focused on the boat.”
— Selfveda (@_selfveda) July 13, 2015
Earlier this year, a paddle boarder managed to record his own stunning encounter with a juvenile orca when it approached him. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the orca bit into the tail end of his board, investigating him before eventually moving on.
The Butlers’ encounter wasn’t the only one recently recorded in which a whale interacted with a family dog. Earlier this week, footage filmed at Whale Point in British Columbia surfaced, showing a humpback (rather than an orca) swimming to within just a few yards of a dog that was observing it from a shoreline.
[Image: YouTube / thejkbutlers via GrindTV]