A seaplane painted like an orca on the water.
Photo by Chris Teren for Wild Orca.

On a trip to San Juan Island to look for orcas if you glance up and think you see one high in the sky don’t rub your eyes; this is the result of a unique collaboration between Kenmore Air and Wild Orca.

Kenmore Air seaplane pilots Michael Hays and Anna Gullickson founded Wild Orca in 2014, inspired by their unique view of the Southern Resident killer whales, and were determined to make a difference. They hatched a crazy dream of flying an orca seaplane above this endangered population they were working to protect and hoped to raise greater awareness of their plight by directly engaging with Kenmore Air passengers.

Fortunately, they found an enthusiastic and willing partner in their management team at Kenmore Air who quickly offered one of their seaplanes to be converted into a wild orca, based on Michael’s design—just as soon as crowdfunding was raised for the tuxedo paint transformation.

Anna Gullickson and Michael Hays standing next to the Wild Orca Seaplane.
Photo by Wild Orca.

Wild Orca co-founders Michael Hays & Anna Gullickson alongside the DHC-3T deHavilland Otter Seaplane.

This flying orca ambassador has helped spread the word about this endangered population since 2015. From its eye-catching and unique livery to the seatback brochures, you’re invited to learn about the lives of these wild orca families you might also see as you fly the skies above their Salish Sea summer feeding grounds. In Kenmore Air’s own words, “The #WildOrcaSeaplane. It’s one bad mamba jamba helping @wildorcaorg spread awareness about saving this endangered species.”

Kenmore Air continues to support Wild Orca’s efforts by carrying our brochures in seatback pockets throughout their entire fleet that flies the skies across vital orca and salmon habitat in Washington State and British Columbia. Thanks to their help, we’re reaching tens of thousands of passengers, as well as those on the ground who simply wonder, just why is there a wild orca flying through the sky?