Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
We headed out this morning with sun and cloud in the sky but thankfully no rain! We decided to start our search south of the harbour and then continued towards the west. We toured through Becher Bay where the waters were calm and we spotted a Bald Eagle soaring high in the sky. We also found many Harbour Seals lying near the water on the rocky shores of a couple of the islands. The Harbour Seals are the most abundant marine mammal on BC's coastline and a favourite food source for the Transient Orcas. We then headed towards Race Rocks Lighthouse, the second oldest lighthouse on Canada's Pacific Coast. The light first appeared in the night sky on December 26th of 1860, guiding ships safely through the Straight of Juan de Fuca.
We were met by 4 different species of seals and sea lions at Race Rocks. Guests enjoyed the sight of the massive California and Stellar's Sea Lions. The California species bark loudly and are a chocolate brown colour. The Stellar's Sea Lion males can reach 2500 pounds and stretch out to 12 feet in length. Across from the lighthouse we were able to spot a few female Elephant Seals resting on the top of the island. This time of year they are molting their fur. We also caught sight of the massive male Elephant Seal lying among the kelp, blending in well with his surroundings. Dozens of Harbour Seals littered the waters edge on many of the small islets, catching a bit of sun to warm them on a rather cool day. We made our way east back to Victoria after a great morning on the water.
On today's afternoon whale watching excursion we set out to find as many of British Columbia's coastal wildlife as we could. We first began our search south of Victoria Harbour to see if we could spot any blows or dorsal fins. After a good scan of the area and no sign of any whales we decided to head west passing Race Rocks Lighthouse. We ended up circling inside Becher Bay enjoying the beautiful coastline and calm waters. One guest spotted a triangular shape sticking out of the water which turned out to be the triangular pectoral flipper of a sea lion. This behavior is called 'sharking' and is when sea lions hold their pectoral fins out of the water to warm them in the air because they do not have an insulating layer of fur on their flippers. As we continued along the coastrline east we saw a mature Bald Eagle perched upon a tower, scoping the area for fish under the water. We then cruised over to the Marine Reserve known as Race Rocks Lighthouse. We first spotted 3 Elephant Seals, all females, resting on top of one of the islands. A male Elephant Seal was in the water near the lighhouse stairway, lifting his large proboscis (inflatable nose) in the air. Guests were entertained by the barks and growls coming from the very large California and Stellar's Sea Lions. These massive bachelors were enjoying some lounging time out of the water. The big eyed Harbour Seals quietly relaxed just above the surface of the water on several of the area's islands. Soon many of the females with have their pups as a new generation of seals begins in our area. We continued to scan for whales all over the straight as we made our way back to the dock. The whales were elusive but other fantastic marine life made for an enjoyable trip on the Salish Sea.