Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
Today we had the warmest and sunniest conditions since spring began! On our morning trip we set off on the Orca Spirit II with calm seas to greet us as we left the harbour. It was not long before we cam across a minke whale. Minke whales are the second smallest baleen whale in the world. They can reach lengths of 23-26 feet long with short pectoral fins. Only the North Pacific population of minkes has a white band on their otherwise dark pectoral fins. This minke was obviously feeding over a sea mound, a place where great quantities of nutrients well up, attracting many fish, seals, and whale species. We eventually made our way west over to Race Rocks Lighthouse, the second oldest lighthouse on the Canadian Pacific. The black and white tower rises 24.4m into the sky, warning incoming vessels of the dangerous rocky islands and fast currents. We were able to spend time with some noisy but entertaining Stellar’s Sea Lions, lazy female Elephant Seals and curious looking Harbour Seals. It was interesting and exciting to see the range of sizes between the animals as well as their behaviours.
In the afternoon our guests crewed out into the Salish Sea aboard the Orca Spirit. We first searched south, towards the picturesque Olympic Mountains of Washington. We also had stunning views of Mount Baker to the east, its high snowy peaks towering in the distance. We moved on to the west to look for more marine life. We stopped at Race Rocks Lighthouse with its racing currents that can exceed 8 nautical miles an hour. A large group of male Stellar’s Sea Lions were bickering with each other for prime tanning spots amongst the rocks. We also spotted the female Elephant Seals lying almost motionless on top of one of the islands, resting as their coat of fur molts. Dozens of Harbour Seals could be found lying on many of the islands, some giving a curious look at us as we passed by. We then moved further south to watch a large group of Harbour Porpoises as they hunted for small fish. They were so concentrated on feeding that they barely seemed to notice us. We travelled a bit further west to look for more wildlife and we found 2 Bald Eagles perched at the top of the small islands. One was an adult and one was a juvenile. The juvenile did not yet have a white head and bum feathers. On our way back to Victoria, we traveled along the coast to take in the beautiful shorelines of Vancouver Island.