I posted 8 photos on Facebook in the album "" http://t.co/7TlGYTCFjB
July 17, 2011
It was a cool, clear afternoon with good visibility. We headed east to the west side of San Juan Island where Orcas were rumoured to be and found a super-pod with all three of our resident families together! There were Orcas in abundance, easily spotted along the horizon in all directions with a few groups nearby. We turned off our engines and drifted, watching the whales swimming past. We were able to identify a few individuals amongst the rest, specifically J27 (Blackberry), a young male in the J-pod. The L12 matriline was also present, easily identifiable by their token male, Mega (L41) though it seemed they had picked up a few extra male suitors for the afternoon. The whales were hunting and playing, treating us to spy-hops and many tail slaps. It appeared that there was also some romance on the high seas with so many eligible young Orcas around, quite a bit of rolling upside down and flirting seemed to be taking place. We enjoyed the show for as long as we could before having to head back. Plenty of hot chocolates and warm drinks helped to take the chill off on the way home, and the beautiful scenery along the southern coast of Vancouver Island became the topic for conversation.
For our Sunday evening trip, we headed to San Juan Island where we encountered orcas offshore of Hannah Heights, making their way south. It was another wonderful trip, with J-pod, the K13's and the L-12's all present and accounted for. The whales were spread out and we saw lots of social behaviour. Guests were thrilled to see a young calf breach, and we saw Polaris (J28) travelling with her young daughter Star (J46). Guests even witnessed mating behaviour, as Solstice (L89) rolled on his back, displaying a "sea snake" as he fraternized with an unidentified female. A highlight of the trip was the acoustic display we heard through the hydrophone, with screeches, chirps, and echolocation. It was the best vocalizations of my season thus far!
On the return to Victoria, we had time to look for other wildlife. We stopped to look for harbour seals near the Chain Islets and noticed several seabirds foraging. A rhinoceros auklet had its bill filled with bait fish right near the vessel. Many harbour seals were hauled out on the rocks, including several young pups. As we passed Trial Island, Captain Brad noticed a bald eagle so we stopped to have a look. As we stopped, another eagle flew overhead. It was a great way to end an excellent trip.