One of those 'we are so lucky to be in such a beautiful city' type of days! http://t.co/pmkVhOHZ44
August 26, 2011
This morning, we boarded the Orca Spirit and headed towards Haro Strait. We were eager to get out on the water after yesterday's incredible trips. We had reports of orcas before we even left the dock. We arrived on scene near False Bay to find resident orcas spread out and foraging, on the search for salmon. Much of this morning's wonderful trip was spent with us just drifting with the current, watching the orcas forage nearby. We heard lots of vocalizations and echolocation clicks. We saw lots of salmon jumping too - great news for the orcas! We had a thrilling encounter with the J16's, including J16 (Slick) herself and her son J26 (Mike). Many other whales passed us by. We later had confirmed reports that members of all three pods were present! We saw an awesome spyhop from a young orca, and were excited to see an array of behaviours, including some distant breaching. I am sure that the calm seas and an abundance of whales will be something that our guests will not soon forget.
The tour was not over yet though. We always strive to show our guests as much as possible. We were able to do a stop at one of my favourite wildlife locales, the Chain Islets. Harbour seals were hauled out in the morning sun. Cormorants and gulls were perched on the rocks. I even noticed some harlequin ducks, a beautifully coloured diving duck. It was an incredible morning on the Salish Sea.
By the afternoon trip, the orcas had travelled much further north, and as such so did we. We first encountered orcas off of Henry Island, just off the northwest coast of San Juan Island. Most of the whales were travelling well inshore. We waited patiently offshore, over a quarter mile off and worked our way north, waiting for the whales to make their typical move across some open water as they travelled towards Turn Point. Our orca experience truly began with another wonderful viewing of Slick (J16), Mike (J26) and Hy'Sqa (J36). After these orcas passed us, many more whales soon followed, including the K13 matriline and the newest K-pod orca (K44)! I was also able to identify some L-pod whales, including Nyssa (L84). It was amazing to again see members of all three pods, but also an array of beautiful behaviours, including cartwheels, inverted tail lobs, spyhops, and a few breaches. We travelled with the orcas as they made their way north with Speiden Island and Battleship Island as picturesque backdrops.
We had another great trip back across Haro Strait, and treated our guests to a wonderful wildlife stop at Trial Island. Harbour seals were aplenty again! We worked our way off of the southern coast of the island, giving our guests plenty of time to take pictures of the historic lighthouse (built in 1905) before we headed back to the harbour.