Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
This afternoon we boarded the Orca Spirit and left the harbour heading west. The wind was making the water choppy as we travelled towards Race Rocks Island along the Victoria shoreline. We had just passed the old lighthouse when in the distance we spotted a black dorsal fin cutting through the waves; we had found the orcas!
As we approached we recognized the pod as J pod, belonging to the Southern Resident Population of orcas in our area. Southern Residents Orcas eat only fish, as opposed to mammals, and the majority of their diet is made up of Chinook Salmon. There are three pods in the Southern Resident Population: J, K and L pod. J pod has 28 members, and is lead by their oldest female J2, also known as Granny, who turns 101 this summer! Right as we were getting close enough to snap some photos of the orcas, one of the female breached, welcoming us to the area.
After some playful activity, the orcas started moving together in a line, diving and coming up to breath at the same time, indicating they may have gone into a resting state where they actually shut off one side of their brains at a time. After a few more photos, we moved on to try our luck at Race Rocks lighthouse.
The rocky shore of the island didn’t disappoint, as we found two California Sea Lions and a group of elephant seals taking a nap as we approached. Sea lions and seals can look similar, but differ in a few ways. Sea lions are able to walk on their front flippers and also have ear flaps, while seals are only able to flop on their bellies on land, and simply have ear holes. After snapping some photos we headed back towards the harbour, once again catching up to the orcas who were traveling in the same direction, still resting. A few minutes later and we were back in the harbour, after a very exciting afternoon.