Sunshine and zodiac tours watching transient Orcas - what a perfect start to this Sunday!
It was a wonderful afternoon today to embark on a whale watching adventure! The sun was shining and the waters grew calmer as the trip went on, until it was flat calm when we reached the whales. Our fast Orca Spirit vessel sped us over to the American side of the Juan de Fuca Straight near Protection Island and Port Townsend. This is a long way from Victoria, but what awaited us was worth the trek! J-pod, one of the three pods that make up the Southern Resident population, was on the hunt for tasty salmon. We watched as the whales changed directions and circled around, working cooperatively to herd fish. There were two different groups of whales who swam towards each other, corralling groups of salmon between them.
We saw at least three females, a few calves and one large male. It was easy to identify the large male as Riptide or J-30. Riptide has a solid saddlepatch and no scars on his dorsal fin. Riptide has grown substantially in the last two years as he is now 17 years old, making him an adult member of the population. The female and and calf swimming close to Riptide were his mother Samish (J-14) and his youngest brother Se-Yi-Chn (J-45). Se-Yi-Chn is a coast Salish name which means ‘Little Brother’, fitting as he is the sixth offspring born to Samish. At the young age of 3, Se-Yi-Chn stays close to his mom and siblings. Today he demanded that his mother play with him by lying on her head and rolling around! Samish like all orca moms, played along with her baby, pushing him around with her rostrum (front of her head). This type of affectionate behavior helps forge strong bonds between mom and calf who will remain side by side for the duration of their lives. We were also treated to several tail slaps, pectoral fin slaps and a couple of spyhops. Se-Yi-Chn even swung his tail fluke from side to side above the water as if he was waving at us! It was a fantastic meeting with the orcas, instilling memories for all our wonderful guests on board.