Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
June 13, 2011
The waters off Victoria could not be calmer than they were when we left the Victoria Harbour this morning! Early in our trip we watched a stunning bald eagle perched on a pole at Trial Island. We were also fortunate enough to see dozens of harbour seals hauled out along the rocks at the lighthouse as well. To our delight, we got to see a few of the first pups of the season, lying close to their mothers. We said good-bye to the seals and headed towards Lime Kiln Park on San Juan Island.
Guests spotted the first blows of the majestic black and white whales we call orcas. The family was soon recognized as J-pod, a tight knit family group consisting of 27 members. The first male we saw was Mike (J26), with his tall dorsal fin slicing the surface of the water. We soon spotted more whales belonging to the J9 matriline. It was non other than Polaris (J28) and her young daughter Star (J46). Polaris is a young mother born in 1993. She gave birth to little Star in 2009, and the two are inseparable. Once born into a pod orca calves remain close to their mother and siblings for the rest of their lives. Polaris is easily identified by a large nick in the middle of her dorsal fin along the trailing edge. After Polaris and her daughter passed, along came members of the J4 matriline. Blackberry (J27) is easily recognized by his towering dorsal fin and open saddle patch. His dorsal fin still teeters from side to side, as he just reached sexual maturity at the age of 20. Not far off from Blackberry, we spotted a young whale who displayed several breaches in a row. His name is Mako, Blackberry's youngest sibling born in 2003. Their mother passed away since Mako was born so Blackberry and his sister Tsuchi (J31) keep a close eye on him. We were also able to identify Tsuchi amongst the group, hanging out near her pod mate Polaris. It was an exciting day in Haro Straight, as we got to see these top predators of the sea cruising along the shores of San Juan Island. We counted at least 6 breaches during the trip! If you want to look at pictures of the whales we saw today, you can check out the whale ID page on the Centre for Whale Research's website: www.whaleresearch.com.
Blackberry and Tsuchi