Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
Trip 1: 9am
Today we started our trip bright and early, heading east out of the harbour under a cloudy sky. We hadn’t gone far when we reached Trial Island, where we found a full grown bald eagle perching on a sign. After a few photos it was off to look for orcas that had been reported heading in our direction from Vancouver earlier that morning. We took off towards Active Pass, travelling up Haro and Swanson Straight, stopping only for a quick scan for the orcas at Turn Point. After some looking and not much luck at spotting the orcas near Active Pass, we turned around in hopes of finding other wildlife. On our way back we stopped in at Discovery Island and Chatham Island, named so after the explorer Captain George Vancouver’s ship the HMS Discovery and its escort ship the HMS Chatham. Chatham Island has a very interesting history because of its role in the illegal transport of alcohol between Canada and the United States during the prohibition. As we reached the islands we came upon a large group of harbour seals enjoying a lazy morning lying on the rocks. Harbour seals are usually white or grey in colour, with distinctive spots across their fur, and can weigh up to 290 pounds. After watching the group and snapping some photos it was time to turn around and head back towards the harbour after a fun morning on the water.
Trip 2: 1pm
This afternoon we began our tour on the Orca Spirit by turning east out of the harbour heading towards Boundary Pass, where we had heard reports of orca whales being spotted in the area. Travelling at full speed ahead we set off and soon passed North Pender Island, where the grey skies finally parted to allow sun and blue skies to shine through. As if the sun was some indication of good luck, only a few minutes later we spotted orcas! They were part of the Southern Resident population, belonging mostly to J pod, although one male orca from L pod, known as L84 or Nyssa, was spotted with them as well. Several females including J19 or Shachi, and a few males were extremely active as they jumped out of the water (breached), tail slapped, and chased one another while everyone onboard snapped as many photos as they could get of the quick mammals. One female and a calf even swam directly underneath the boat to the other side. After playing for quite a while, some of J pod headed along the rocks of Saturna Island, most likely working in a group to chase down some lunch. A few more breaches and jumps and it was sadly time to leave our new friends behind and go back to the harbour, everyone heading back with great photos and amazing memories.