One of those 'we are so lucky to be in such a beautiful city' type of days! http://t.co/pmkVhOHZ44
October 7, 2011
Today we headed out on the Strait of Juan de Fuca with an anxious group of guests, all looking forward to seeing the largest beasts in the world- the whales! Well the whales did not disappoint us, as after only traveling a few miles straight south, we found two humpbacks! Humpbacks are the largest of the four types of whales that we have the opportunity to see in our waters. The largest humpbacks are the females, who are 48 feet long and weigh up to 40 tons! They need to store huge amounts of fat to make the long journey to Hawaii and back. The females need to be bigger than the males, as they are the ones that need to support a long pregnancy and feed a very hungry and fast growing calf. The humpbacks we saw today were a mother and her calf, soon to be a year old. The surfaced several times side-by-side and lifted their massive tail flukes up for all to see before they went down for a longer, deeper dive.
After a splendid visit with these majestic whales, we decided to see what else might be in the waters. We made our way east towards San Juan Island where we were greeted by the sights of killer whales surfacing over a wide range of the water. All the whales looked to be fishing for the last of the season's spawning salmon. The orcas spend over 6 months within the area, foraging on the salmon that are heading up the Frasier River to spawn in the freshwater streams. A teenage male who we soon identified as DoubleStuf was eagerly chasing a salmon, we watched as he turned and rolled in hot pursuit of some afternoon lunch. DoubleStuf or J-34, is the son of Oreo (J-22) and brother to young Cookie (J-38), a female born in 2003. Orcas spend their entire lives in the company of their immediate family. Then another male came into the same area as us, it was Blackberry (J-27), a well known male who is very easy to pick out with his unique swirl in his saddlepatch. Blackberry turned 20 years old this season, making him a mature male in the Southern Resident population. He has a younger sister and a brother, the three are usually seen within the same area. Other orcas were spotted as well; we saw many females and even some young calves, always close to their moms! It was a special visit with the whales, but time flies when you are having fun, so we headed back to Victoria. We stopped at Trial Island to check out a Bald Eagle perched on the top of the island, enjoying some kind of food he had in his or her talons. We also spotted a few dozen Harbour Seals resting near the water’s edge, trying to keep warm in the sun. Calm waters saw us home, everyone happy to have seen so many kinds of marine wildlife!