Sightings Report - August 22nd 2019

Earlier this week we spent a majority of our trip around Race Rocks. We usually stop by this ecological reserve on our tours for the different species of pinnipeds, and the T109As decided to do the same on this particular day!

We were able to see a lot of playful behavior from the youngsters of the group. We also saw quite a few on-edge sea lions swimming in the water nearby.

Southeast of Race Rocks, BC Nova also spotted a large humpback indulging in some bull kelp!

Capt Tom
Sightings Report - August 16th 2019

The T101s passed by Victoria earlier this week! This family consists of T101, a 50 year old female, and her three sons. One of her sons, T102, was likely adopted by her.

The group of 4 passed Sooke by noon and were around San Juan Island by the evening! Biggs killer whales can travel up to 100 km in a single day. Where they travel to cannot be predicted; all we know is they make their travel plans primarily around food.

We also saw a variety of wildlife at Race Rocks and were able to spot a few humpback whales south from there!

Capt Tom
Sightings Report - August 12th 2019

It’s humpback land out in the Juan de Fuca straight right now! Dozens of individuals have been feeding and socializing within a few miles of each other. The other day, we caught a glimpse of some playful behaviors! MMX0085 Zeppelin had draped some bull kelp over his dorsal, then around his fluke!

We’ve still been seeing Steller and California sea lions crowding up Race Rocks! Being able to travel south to the humpbacks gives us the opportunity to go by this ecological reserve to view these giant pinnipeds, along with the other variety of wildlife visiting Race Rocks!

Capt Tom
Sightings Report - August 10th 2019

T65A2, a 15 year old Biggs killer whale, made a visit to downtown Victoria Harbour yesterday morning! It is an extremely rare occurrence for orcas to enter the harbour, so this was quite the surprise!

T65A2 recently started traveling with his aunt, T65B, and her family while spending some time away from his mom, T65A. The past few days he's been on his own sticking close to land. In the afternoon, we caught him heading north off Oak Bay. Perhaps he's going through his rebellious teenage years and spending some time on his own to figure things out :)

The Steller and California sea lions have also returned to Race Rocks in huge numbers! In one direction you could see two males fighting over the comfiest spot on the rocks, in another two were playfully fighting in the water, and all over there was cuddling and snuggling!

Capt Tom
Sightings Report - August 7th 2019

We watched these apex predators circle the rocks in search of harbour seals around the Shaw Island in the US Gulf Islands. This family of four consists of T18, T19, and T19's two sons, T19B and T19C.

The orcas are at a disadvantage when the seals are hauled out on the rocks. If they were to try lunging and grabbing one, the sharp surface scraping against their skin could injure them.

Although harbour seals rest out of the water, they struggle to maneuver their chunky bodies on land. When they sense danger, their immediate instinct is to escape into the water where they are fastest. The orcas know this and use it to their advantage. They will swim right beside the rocks, making their presence known to initiate fear into the seals. This tactic differs greatly from their usual quiet, sneaky approach. If one seal falls victim to their panic, they will attempt an escape by going into the water, where the orcas can hunt them with more ease.

While we were on scene, a hunt took place underwater. We only knew one occurred when T19B swam by a boat with a chunk of flesh in his mouth.

Witnessing such calculated thinking and teamwork from these whales really reminds you how intelligent they are!

Capt Tom
Sightings Report - August 4th 2019

The T65As spent most of yesterday in the Saanich Inlet. They were staying close to the shore looking for prey.

Shortly after we arrived, they stopped and began a hunt. They appeared to be teaching differen techniques to the newest member of the family, 1 year old T65A6!

After they fed, they continued traveling close to land out of the inlet.

Capt Tom
Sightings Report - August 2nd 2019

We had amazing encounters yesterday with Biggs killer whales and humpback whales only a couple miles apart from each other.

T46B1 and her two offspring, T46B1A and T46B1B, were slowly traveling west past Sooke. We were able to see the clear contrast between T46B1B, the gray calf with a rare genetic condition affecting his pigmentation, and his mother and sister, who do not have the condition.

Afterwards, we headed south to find humpback whales. We had close encounters with two grown humpbacks who came over to check us out. Then, a young calf surprised us by popping up next to the boat. He not only examined the boat, but was clearly examining those on board. Mom came over to check us out as well!

Being able to view wildlife without disturbing their natural behaviors is a priority, but the rare occasion where the animals we are observing make the choice to come over and observe us is a humbling, gratifying experience!

Capt Tom
Sightings Report - July 26th 2019

Last night we caught up with the T46Bs, who were traveling at 8 - 13 knots (14 - 24 kph) southwest! Once we managed to get to them, they stopped to hunt and make a kill. Although what they were hunting remained hidden under the waves, we were able to see fast, powerful surfacing from the orcas! After feeding, they exhibited quite a bit of curiosity, suddenly popping up to the few boats on scene and checking them out.

Capt Tom