One of those 'we are so lucky to be in such a beautiful city' type of days! http://t.co/pmkVhOHZ44
September 17, 2011
We left the Victoria Harbour today aboard the Pacific Explorer. After passing by the Ogden Point breakwater, we set coarse southwest to search for whales and other marine life that call these waters home. We did not have to travel to far when guests spotted the tall plume of mist coming from not one but two humpbacks! It was a mother and her calf. To our delight the pair were surfacing often, not taking long dives which can extend to 12 minutes long. This calf would have been born last winter, likely around December or January. Humpback calves spend one or occasionally two years with their mothers before venturing off on their own, following the migration route that their mother taught them. At this time of year, humpbacks are on their way south to Hawaii, having spent the spring and summer feeding heavily off the shores of Alaska and northern British Columbia. We were able to get a good look at the bumps on the humbacks' jaw lines, known as tubercles. These tubercles contain a nerve hair that detects pressure change in the water, a great tool to have when you live in a dark environment and cannot see the tiny food that is in front of you!
After a great visit with the humpbacks our Captain decided to search further west for anymore sea life. To our surprise and utter delight, a guest spotted a black dorsal fin way off in the distance towards shore. As we approached the area where this transient or mammal-hunting orca last surfaced, we were able to identify him as T-31. T-31 is a 56 year old male who does not have any surviving family members, so he travels around solo, hunting seals and porpoises. Ahead of T-31 we spotted 3 more transient orcas! It was the T-10 matriline, consisting of a mother, her oldest son, and a calf. Transients often meet up with other matrilines to socialize, mate, and cooperatively hunt. It was nice to see T-31 get some social time with the other whales. It is a big ocean, and he likely goes days at a time without seeing another orca, sad when you consider they are highly social animals that are very close to their family members. It is not often that we get to see more than one kind of whale in one trip! We also rarely get to ride on water that looks like glass with the sun shining in our faces! It was a beautiful and memorable day on the water!