Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
July 8, 2011
The feeling on the breeze was promise as we sailed out first thing past Ogden Point in Victoria harbour this morning. The sun was deciding to poke through the clouds rather than hide and the wind had come down from the day before, leaving the water with only a slight chop. We headed straight out and after about 15 minutes stopped for a scan of the horizon. The visibility was good but we weren't able to spot anything yet so we carried on. After another few minutes we stopped again and this time a Humpback was found a little off the Victor-Gulf buoy. We trailed along, watching the massive mysticetes (baleen whale) who was in slow mode. It was surfacing long and lazily, only diving once it had taken several breaths. Humpbacks are known for their long migrations from Hawaii in the winter to Alaska and Northern British Columbia in the summer; it was therefore a bit of a treat to see one of these incredible whales this time of year, most being farther north looking for Krill to feed on.
Prior to the late 1960's Humpbacks were hunted almost to extinction, but luckily these whales have made an exceptional recovery and are now only considered a threatened species. The humpbacks are made unique by the markings on their tail flukes which allow us to identify them and their impressive 5 foot baleen and 400 pound hearts.
Once the Humpback's flukes sank beneath the waves for the third or fourth time we decided to go find other exciting wild life to look at. We motored only a short distance to South of Race Rocks Lighthouse when we happened upon a group of transients. These Orcas were heading East along the coast, no doubt hunting down some seals or porpoise to feed on. There was at least one male, later identified as T-10B, accompanied by his mother T-10 and several others too quick to easily identify. When the wind picked up and we had managed several good looks at the transients, we reluctantly headed for home. Everyone was smiling for the short trip back, the Orcas had lead us almost to Victoria!
This afternoon, we headed back out aboard the Orca Spirit to look for the orcas and the humpback whale. We encountered the orcas about 8 miles south of the Victoria harbour, as they continued to make their way across the Victoria waterfront. The small group of orcas included two males, along with two females. The orcas were spread out and most likely foraging. After our orca encounter, we headed to the Chain Islets where we saw lots of harbour seals sunning themselves on the rocks. Passing by Great Chain Island, we noticed a commotion over the cormorant colony and saw an eagle getting harassed by several gulls. The eagle perched on top of the nest. When we got closer, we noticed two mature bald eagles perched on the nest! With orca sightings, bald eagles, harbour seals, and an abundance of seabirds, it was a great afternoon on the Salish Sea.