Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
August 5, 2011
This morning, we headed out on the Pacific Explorer, and made our way to San Juan Island. We had reports of orcas heading north along the northern end of San Juan Island. From about 3 miles away, Captain Brad spotted the blows of a large group of orcas near Lime Kiln lighthouse and we headed over to investigate. We watched as the orcas made their way past the lighthouse, travelling in a large group of 10 to 15 whales. We identified a large group of both J and K-pod whales, including the familiar sight of Blackberry (J27). Other identified whales included Comet (K38), K12 (Sequim) and her daughter (K22). It was a magnificent morning of whale watching highlighted by some spectacular behaviour, including a spyhop, breaches and tail lobs.
On the return to Victoria, we stopped by Trial Island, one of our favourite harbour seal sites. We were not disappointed, as several seals were basking in the morning sun. Our captain even managed a photo of a spyhopping harbour seal! Perched right above the harbour seals, was a mature bald eagle. We watched him for awhile before he flew away. What a great way to start the day!
For the afternoon trip, we headed north towards South Pender Island. The afternoon trip was a great example of just how far the whales can move, as we had a long journey to the whales this afternoon. We eventually caught up to the whales as they were crossing Boundary Pass, nearing Pender Bluffs. We viewed a large group of L-pod whales, including Grace (L2), Tanya (L5), Wavewalker (L88), Gaia (L78) and Nyssa (L84). We watched the whales travelling in tight formation, almost touching each other as they made their way north. We enjoyed the calm water and sunshine and were preparing to leave after an excellent encounter when their behaviour began to change. A couple of whales began to tail slap, pec slap and or do the inverted tail lob. The action was beginning to heat up. Sadly, we had to leave, but as we were making our way out two amazing full breaches, a truly incredible way to end a great orca encounter. On the return to Victoria, we travelled through the many islands east of Sidney and a had a wonderful relaxing cruise back to the harbour.
See Captain Brad's photos below: