Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
July 15, 2011
This morning with cooler weather we headed west out of the harbour in search of some resident orca which we believed were coming back in from the Pacific Ocean. Throughout the summer, our 3 resident pods move around anywhere from Vancouver, down and around the Southern tip of Vancouver Island and west down the Juan De Fuca Strait towards the Pacific Ocean. As we began to cover some distance we passed many fishing boats all lined up along the coast line and then entered into some fog near Beechy Head. Not long after we were surrounded by fog, we were lucky to come across L Pod! Our guests were very excited to spot our black and white buddies. As the whales moved East, we slowly traveled alongside them, catching some wonderful glimpses of a male and a female in the fog and a few tail slaps here and there. After spending some quality time with L Pod, unfortunately it was time to make our way back to the harbour. On our way, we stopped at Race Rocks. This area is full of nutrients from constant upwelling which brings a lot of marine wildlife such as harbour seals, sea lions, whales, cormorants, and many small fish, crabs and other marine birds! We were lucky to find a number of cute little harbour seals resting on the rocks, saving their energy for their next excursion in the water. As we headed back to the harbour, the sun peaked out to complete a very lovely morning on the water!
A peaceful afternoon found us L-pod just outside Victoria, a little south of Trial Island. The L-pod has about 40 individuals and they were spread out all through the Juan de Fuca strait, heading east towards San Juan Island in Washington. We were able to easily identify a few individuals, one being Crewser (L92) an 18 year old male mid puberty. For a while we followed a group of three Orcas who turned out to be 41 year old Spirit (L22) and her two sons Skana (L79), at 21 years old and Solstice (L89), at 19 years old. An hour or more passed quickly as we quietly drifted across Haro Strait and just offshore of Middle Bank with the Orcas. When we finally left them we took a scenic route through Chatham and Discovery Islands and around the Chain Islands. There were two bald eagles there; one perched upon a dead tree snag on Chatham, the other on the red Oak Bay navigation marker. We were even able to spot their nest from the boat, on the largest of the Chain Islands, safe between both parents' watchful eyes. We also saw some of the new Harbour Seal pups and their mothers relaxing on the rocks of Chatham and Chain Islands as well as some in the water, their dark eyes watching us as we watched them. A better afternoon could not be asked for and the final stretch in to Victoria was quiet, the guests simply enjoying all they had seen out in the Salish Sea.