Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
August 19, 2011
This morning, Captain Brad, naturalists Corey and Amy and a wonderful group of guests headed into Haro Strait in search of orcas. We first encountered orcas west of Henry Island. The first whales we identified were Slick (J16) and her adult male son Mike (J26). The whales were definitely foraging. Seeing Slick and Mike made me (naturalist Corey) wonder where Hy'Sqa (J36) and Echo (J42), Slick's other living offspring were. However, Captain Brad spotted them nearby and we headed over to watch them. We dropped the hydrophone to have a listen and heard the echolocation clicks, calls and whistles of the orcas. They were definitely on the hunt! Echo thrilled us with some wonderful foraging behaviour! Close analysis of some photos showed that Echo had indeed caught a salmon! As the fog rolled in, we spent some time with a few other orcas, and witnessed spectacular high-speed swimming. Lobo (K26), a now very large 18 year old male, graced us with a thrilling pass to end a great encounter. After stopping to view several harbour seals at Trial Island, we headed back to the harbour.
For the afternoon trip, we had to travel significantly further north. We had to travel to Java Rocks, south of Saturna Island where we encountered members of K and L-pods travelling east in Boundary Pass. We showed our guests the wonder of wild orcas just west of where the first captive orca, Moby Doll, was harpooned in 1964 near East Point. That event began the removal of at least 58 whales from the southern resident orca community during from the mid-1960's to the early 1970's. It was a spectacular trip amongst some of the most beautiful scenery we can encounter on our trips. With the San Juan Islands to the south, and the Gulf Islands to the north and Mount Baker visible in all its splendour, it was a beautiful afternoon. Our orca encounter was concluded with a thrilling pass by a large group of L-pod whales, including Mega (L41), the largest and oldest southern resident male orca. The scenic return trip to Victoria took us through John's Pass by Stuart Island and by Speiden Island. It was a fantastic trip and an incredible day on the Salish Sea.