Watching the sun set with our guests from the Star Princess (Princess Cruises). http://t.co/HOSPXt2VCT
This afternoon we boarded the Orca Spirit under sunny skies as we began our trip. We turned west out of the harbour, traveling on water as clear and smooth as glass, and sped towards Race Rocks Island where we had heard reports of orcas in the area. We weren’t disappointed, as we reached the very southern tip of Vancouver Island we spotted black dorsal fins in the distance coming towards us! We had found J pod, one of the three pods belonging to the Southern Resident Population, or fish eating orcas found in our area. J pod has 28 members, but today they were very spread out over a few miles.
We watched one male and a group of females and calves as they actively did a series of tail lobs, pectoral slaps, and finally three breaches near our boat! One female in the group was identified as J28, more commonly known as Polaris. Next we headed to Race Rocks, where we found an even bigger surprise.
Swimming along the bull kelp near the rocky shore of the island we found a male sea otter, the first time one has ever been spotted in Victoria waters! Sea otters are normally found much further north than Victoria, and generally no further south than Tofino on Vancouver Island. So finding one in our area is extremely rare and exciting! Sea otters have the densest fur in the animal kingdom, with up to 70,000 hairs per square inch on their bodies. They are also one of the few animals who use tools such as rocks to help them open their food, their main diet consists of shellfish and sea urchins.
While cruising slowly around Race Rocks we also spotted a group of Harbour Seals and some Elephant Seals sunning themselves on the rocks. As we left the rocky island, we were in for more excitement when we found two Humpback Whales in the water not far off of where the orcas had just been! A female humpback and her calf were traveling peacefully together, their long backs and small dorsal fins dark against the clear water.
After a few minutes of watching, the humpbacks began a series of breaches, a jaw dropping site for everyone onboard. After a few more photos we had unfortunately run out of time, and headed back to the harbour after a trip on the water nobody would be forgetting anytime soon.