Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
This afternoon was filled with promise of seeing whales as we took our guests on the silver Orca Spirit boat. We headed east until we reached Haro Straight, turning north towards North Pender Island. It was a long way to travel but J-pod awaited us so the journey was worth it! We watched as many of the family's 27 members passed by, foraging for salmon in the calm waters. We were able to identify J-27 or Blackberry very quickly, as this 21 year old male was a distinct swirl in this saddlepatch. We also spotted the tall dorsal fin of L-87 or Onyx, an L-pod member who travels with J-pod because he likes the mothering affection of Spieden and Granny. With the help of photos from our guests we were able to pick out several members of the J-17 matriline. J-17 is Princess Angeline. We were able to spot her daughters J-28 or Polaris and J-35 or Tahlequah, and her newest calf J-44 or Moby. Polaris is the mother of little Star (J-46) and Tahlequah is a new mom to Notch (J-47). It was amazing to see these three mothers whose calves were all born between November 2009 and January 2010.
As J-pod continued to head north we noticed that DoubleStuf (J-34) was travelling close to his mom Oreo (J-22) and his younger sister Cookie (J-38). DoubleStuf is 14 this year and becoming a mature male. He keeps a close eye on his sister and loves to spend time with his mom. The day was complete when J-26 or Mike swam by. He is the same age as Blackberry, with both males being the icons of J-pod. If we can spot of of these boys, we know we have J-pod i the area immediately! It is amazing to get to know these whales over the seasons. Being able to spot who is who makes them feel more like family. We cruised back to Victoria with tons of photos to look at and great stories to share with our friends and family upon returning home!
Early Evening Tour
We left port at 18:30 on the Orca Spirit II, several worldly travellers ready with cameras in hand to point and shoot photographs into a bank of memories. We headed out on a course south by south-west. Deck hands and passengers had all eyes on the water as we were in search of three Humpback whales that were spotted in our destination. However, with the ability to hold their breath for 40 minutes these massive animals eluded us. We made our way to Race Rocks, a local marine ecological reserve, and took a look at wild life that inhabited this area. Female Elephant Seals, and Harbour Seals decorated the rocks as well as an American Bald Eagle. Some passengers obtained beautiful shots of Harbour Seals hauled out on the rocks above a field of Bull Kelp. All of a sudden Captain Douglas brought our attention to a lone transient ORCA!!! This Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) was identified to be T-072 born in 1974. Passengers were so excited and curious about this orca and why it was traveling fairly fast at a pace of approximately 7 knots, and alone. These whales can communicate over great distances, Humpback whales can be heard from hydrophones distances of 20 Kilometres, and it was a great possibility that this male transient was headed out west towards other whales. With daylight and time running out we made our way back to home port trading stories and photographs of this amazing experience. For anyone wishing to obtain photographs of the wildlife viewed on this trip please email us at email@example.com