Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
Articles tagged with: juan de fuca straight
Today some fantastic visitors to Victoria joined us to look for some of BC's finest marine mammals. We left the Harbour and travelled east along the Straight of Juan de Fuca until we reached Haro Straight and made our way north. We were approaching Darcey Island when we spotted the tell-tale sign of orcas- huge black dorsal fins! They were the T030 matriline.
This family consists of the family's mother, her two daughters, her son and one grandbaby, just recently born! This spunky calf stayed close to his or her mom, swimming in her slipstream. The slipstream is an area located just behind a whale's pectoral fin and is an area of lower resistance in the water, allowing calves to swim more easily through the sea.
We were delighted to witness one of the whales breach out of the water, an amazing and memorable sight! We soon could see the whales were in hot pursuit of some prey! ...
On today's adventure we left the serene waters of Victoria Harbour and set our course towards the placid seas of western Juan de Fuca Straight. As we scanned the horizon for any blows, dorsal fins or splashes, we spotted several Harbour Porpoises surface as they were hunting for small fish to eat. This species of porpoise is quite shy when boats are around, so we have to admire the glimpses we get as we travel along. We made our way over to the Marine Reserve known as Race Rocks. Here there are several small rocky islands, with the largest island home to the infamous black and white lighthouse, all made of granite stones. The lighthouse warns boats of all sizes that the islands are there, so they can avoid running into the dangerous area. Stellar's Sea Lions love to hang out on the rocks here, enjoying the sun and the fish that swim amongst the Bull Kelp. Stellar's Sea Lions like to growl and roar, making sure everyone knows they are there! We were also very fortunate to see not one but two male Elephant Seals along with five females! Elephant Seals are not commonly seen this far south, but we sure enjoy it when they decide to pay us a visit! The male Elephant Seals have an inflatable nose called a proboscis, which they can extend 2 to 3 feet out and make a trumpeting sound. We watched eagerly as one of the males bounced along the rocks towards the females, who moved quickly in the other direction. I guess they were not interested in making friends! Along with the Stellar's Sea Lions, we also saw a few California Sea Lions, with their chocolate brown fur, barking into the air. California Sea Lions are just starting to return to the area, with this trip being one of the first to see the new arrivals. We also got to watch many Harbour Seals resting at the water's edge of many of the islets, everyone was enjoying the warm weather and sunny skies. We headed back to Victoria with lots of great pictures and fun memories!
Today's Ocean Funny: What did one tide-pool say to the other tide-pool?
Show me your mussels!
We began our tour braving the Westerlies on the Juan de Fuca, which fortunately quieted down. Just past the harbour headed towards Esquimalt a mature bald eagle was spotted from a high perch in Western Red Cedar. We scoured Bentick Island and the coves in the area of the Esquimalt Department of National Defense and spotted several lounging Harbour Seals dozing in the late evening sunshine. Next we were off to Race Rocks! Our Captain Brad carefully maneuvered the Orca Spirit around the jagged rocks and ebbing current. We were fortunate to immediately spot a group of male Stellar Sea Lions. They appeared less than interested in us, but nonetheless posed for the camera. Nearly over looked next to the Stellars was an unusual and welcome sight! A male elephant seal, rare to this region when most males are vying for territorial rights further South. The interloping male snorted his proboscis (nose) and we observed the name sake of the species. The tour continued to Pender Bay. A family of river otters leaped into the water as we approached and unfortunately all that was observed there after were, perhaps imagined, bobbing heads. However, river otters are another rare sight to this region as their cousins, the sea otters were extirpated decades earlier during the fur trade. Wrapping up the day, the yellow orange sunset illuminated the Sooke hills as we headed back to port. We had a delightful go see of the inner harbour, taking in the spectacularly lit parliament building. Though not a whale of a day, the sunset tour had the Orca Spirit seal of approval!