Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
July 19, 2011
The westerly winds were blowing this morning, but the blue skies and sun they brought were a welcome relief from previous days of clouds and fog. We headed out of Victoria and east to San Juan Island where we knew whales were likely to be found. Several boats were spread out and after only a few minutes of scanning whales were spotted to the north. We cruised over to them and discovered our resident L-pod traveling north. Initially they were in sleeping mode, swimming side by side in a slow, leisurely fashion, but after a few moments a tail slap signalled the end of their nap and they began moving and searching out some brunch.
After watching the Orcas we identified three family lines: the L20 group consisting of L22 (Spirit) and her two sons, L79 (Skana) and L89 (Solstice), as well as L12 (Alexis) and L85 (Mystery). There was also a young calf with the pod L113 (not yet named) and the mother L94 (Calypso). The whales were hungry after their sleep and were cruising around in all directions, chasing Chinook salmon along the steep sides of San Juan. We watched them splash tails again and again, as well as spy-hop and roll upside down. On our way back to the harbour we had a trail of boats behind us, the zodiacs following in our wake like a trail of ducklings. It was a good show with plenty of fresh air, water, and sun - and whales of course!
After our wonderful morning encounter, we headed back to San Juan Island to spend more time with the L12 subpod. Arriving near Hannah Heights, we immediately spotted the large dorsal fin of Mega (L41) travelling with his siblings Matia (L77), Calypso (L94) and her young calf (L113). It was a wonderful experience in some adventurous seas, highlighted by an amazing display of breaching from Mega (L41). Staff and guests were thrilled when Mega, the largest and oldest male in the southern resident community, breached and/or cartwheeled three times! After the encounter, we headed to Oak Bay where we saw a couple of eagles and some harbour seals hauled out in the afternoon sun.