This screenshot from a video posted by Salty Lady Seafood Co. shows an orca swimming close to a boat. "I thought for sure it would splash us with its tail or nose the skiff," the company said in a social media post. "It was just checking us out though. Fun end to a hard day of work at the farm." (Screenshot)

A whale of a tale

Salty Lady Seafoods crew enjoy an unexpected visit.

A routine trip to her oyster farm turned into a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with an orca for Meta Mesdag, owner of Salty Lady Seafood Co.

“We were headed back to Yankee Cove and between there and Sunshine Cove at about 1:30 on Tuesday when we spotted a pod of orcas in the distance,” Mesdag told the Juneau Empire.“They were well off in the distance, and I stopped really shy of them. We wanted to watch them go past,” she said.

As she moved the engine to idle, two adult orcas made a 90-degree turn and headed straight for her boat, which was packed with passengers and equipment.

Aw, shucks: A love for oysters is growing in Juneau

“They came straight at us,” she said. “I had no idea what they were going to do. They were clearly very curious.”

To her surprise, one orca swam right up next to them, surfaced, and pulled its tail out of the water, about six inches from one of the boat’s passengers.

“A lot was going through my head,” she said, noting that the entire episode lasted about two minutes. “I’ve never had an encounter before. I’m wondering if it’s going to push the boat. It felt like it was playing chicken with us. I thought it could pull someone into the water. I know they aren’t aggressive, so I thought maybe it was just going to splash us.”

After that, the pod, which she estimates included six adults and a calf, swam off.

Juneau gets first local oyster farm

“They circled us and then carried off into the sunset,” she said. “It was a really exciting and fun end to our day. It was incredible. It’s only a three-mile run back and forth to the farm. If we had timed it differently, we would have missed it,” she said.

Orcas, also called killer whales, are found in all the world’s oceans, but they are most abundant in colder waters such as those around Southeast Alaska, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations website.

According to the site, an adult orca can grow up to 32 feet long and weigh up to 11 tons.

• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at or 907-308-4891.

More in News

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. A medical director at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control says the numbers of active COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern are higher than what has been publicly reported in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID-RML via AP
COVID at a glance for Thursday, April 15

These numbers come from reports from the City and Borough of Juneau… Continue reading

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Thursday, April 15, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

COVID at a glance for Wednesday, April 14

The most recent state and local numbers.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, April 14, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident. On Wednesday, March 24, 2021, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the state of Ohio that tried to get the U.S. Census Bureau to provide data used for drawing congressional and legislative districts ahead of its planned release. (AP Photo / Matt Rourke)
Alaska joins 15 other states in backing Alabama’s challenge to Census privacy tool

The case could go directly to the Supreme Court if appealed.

Has it always been a police car? (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Tuesday, April 13, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

This photo shows the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine sits on a table at a pop up vaccinations site the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center, in the Staten Island borough of New York. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo / Mary Altaffer)
CDC freeze on Johnson and Johnson vaccine sets clinics scrambling

The odds of being affected are vanishingly rare, but CDC says better safe than sorry.

After over 30 years at 3100 Channel Drive, the Juneau Empire offices are on the move. (Ben Hohenstatt /Juneau Empire File)
The Juneau Empire is on the move

Advertising and editorial staff are moving to Jordan Creek Center.

Most Read