Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
It was early afternoon when we boarded the Orca Spirit today, the weather had changed drastically from the day before and we were starting to get some rain. The wind had finally died down however, and the water was smooth as glass as we traveled out of the harbour. Turning east, we traveled towards an Island called San Juan, a very common area to find orcas during the summer. Not long after we were speeding past Discover and Chatham Islands, named after the explorer George Vancouver’s ships. About 15 minutes later we had reached our destination, with the American San Juan Island not far from our vessel. We began to scan the area and got good news when we spotted black dorsal fins not too far off the front of our boat. The orcas were from J pod, fish eating orcas that belong to the Southern Resident Population that consists of a group of 85 orcas that return to our area every summer. This pod has 27 members, but they were at least a few miles apart as we watched a group of about 5 females traveling along the shore of the island. We were able to spot a small calf, the newest member of the pod born in 2011 and not yet named, traveling with the females. The group seemed intent on moving, not so on much hunting for salmon which is their primary diet. We lucked out when the calf started getting playful, doing a few breaches and some tail lobs as we tried to catch photos of the magnificent mammals. After staying with the orcas for quite a while, we headed back towards the harbour stopping off at the Chain Islands on the way. As we approached one of the small islands we spotted a large eagle sitting on the top of the rocks, silently scanning the water. On the next island over we found a very fat Harbour Seal lying across rocks in the water, most likely a pregnant female, as female harbour seals give birth in June and July. Finally, time had run out and we headed back to the harbour, extremely happy that the rainy weather was no indication of our exciting trip today.