One of those 'we are so lucky to be in such a beautiful city' type of days! http://t.co/pmkVhOHZ44
October 3, 2011
This morning we didn't have much luck finding whales. Despite our tireless efforts to spot animals south of Victoria, then as far west as we can go, nothing popped up. The afternoon proved more successful as we made our way west again, with reports that whales were heading in from that direction. We made our way to Sooke Harbour when we spotted the familiar black dorsal fins of orcas! Two types of orcas come into our waters, one kind being the transients who are distinguished as mammal hunters and travel in a single matriline, and resident orcas who eat fish and travel in large pods made up of multiple matrilines. The group we happened to find were transients, cruising the waters in search or Harbour Seals or porpoises to eat. The first group we saw, we identified as the T-010 matriline. T-010 is the mother and she was accompanied by her two sons, T-010B and T-010C. This little family patrolled the shoreline, and by the swarm of birds above them at one point, they must have made a kill! Orcas need 200-300 pounds of food a day, so it is great to see that they are successfully catching the food they need.
It was not long after we joined the T-010's, when from the other side of the boat we heard the blows of two more transients, a pair of females, likely a mother and her daughter. They followed close behind the T-010's, also stalking the coast. Things couldn't get better when another group of 2 orcas came up from behind, this time a female and a younger calf. We were about to leave the orcas when all 7 whales surfaced in one large group! It was great! Our guests got to see the size differences between adult males, females and young. Transients often join other transient groups to socialize, cooperatively hunt, and find a mate. With the transient population here at a Threatened status, it is always great to see them meet up in hopes that the population will have a new calf in 17 months!
On the way home, we stopped at Race Rocks to take in all the marine park has to offer. At first we could see dozens of Harbour Seals vegged out along the bottom of the rocky islands. Harbour Seals are not agile walkers on land, they need to flop around on their bellies, so they tend to stay near the water’s edge. Then the barking and growling of the California and Steller Sea Lions could be heard. The massive sea lions also like to spend much of their time on land, soaking up the sun and battling each other for space on the rocks. And nothing beats the beauty of Race Rocks Lighthouse, with its black and white stripes towering into the skyline! It was a wonderful afternoon on the water; we had an amazing day with the transient orcas, sea lions and seals!