One of those 'we are so lucky to be in such a beautiful city' type of days! http://t.co/pmkVhOHZ44
August 9, 2011
Today we cruised out of the harbour o the Pacific Explorer full of guests eager to see whales! We hooked a right turn after Ogden Point, aiming for area along Vancouver Island known as Sooke. It was a long trip out, but what lied ahead was well worth the journey! Something special that we only see a handful of times throughout the season happened today...we had SUPERPOD! This is when all three pods that make up the Southern Resident Killer Whale population are together in the same place! This is a group of 89 whales! The seas were choppy, but the whales helped out our viewing by breaching many times, spy-hopping, splashing and porpoising through the water. As soon as we got on scene with the whales, one of the adult males did a cartwheel out of the water! We saw many tail slaps and submarining. Submarining is when the whales travel fast below the surface, with only their dorsal fin sticking out. It looks something like a submarine's periscope, thus how the behaviour got its name.
We were able to identify one of the males that was traveling closest to us. It was L-87, more easily known as Onyx. Onyx turned 20 years old this season, and he is quite the stud around the J-pod ladies. In fact, he likes J-pod so much, he has spent months hanging out with them instead of his own pod! This is something we have never seen amongst the Southern Residents before. Onyx took to porpoising or high speed swimming along the way, where he would leap out of the water as he swam swiftly east. The whales spent the last day and a half west of Victoria, likely after a large salmon run. We suspect they are making their way towards San Juan Island, their favourite place to hunt Chinook salmon.
After we spent a spectacular time with the whales, we moved on to Race Rocks Lighthouse. The area is a marine reserve, famous for colourful SCUBA diving and home to dozens of sea lions and seals. We spotted both California Sea Lions and Stellar's Sea Lions on the island rocks, waving their heads in the air as a dominance display. We also spotted the much smaller Harbour Seals on another small islet, enjoying the sunshine as much as we were. The 151 year old historic lighthouse made for beautiful photos as well. Race Rocks Lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse on the Canadian Pacific, and uniquely made of stone, painted with black and white stripes. The lighthouse is manned year round, and warns passing ships of the danger that the surrounding islets pose to unsuspecting ships. After a great day on the water, we docked in the Victoria Harbour, guests were excited to get home and see their new pictures and talk about their latest exciting adventure!