Today we had one of the most adventurous rides. We crawled through some big sea rollers right from the breakwater (inner harbour) until we reached Hein bank area where the L's were travling eastward over to San Juan Island - south end. JKL pods came in early this morning, J & K headed north while the L's continued to mill about. We caught various behaviors within those large swells; high persuit hunting, tail lobbing, some breaches by adults and calves, and the odd belly roll. Many of the animals were seen traveling at high speed below the surface and one even tumbled after a fish near another boat. Quite the show. We endured yet another adventurous ride home, making you appreciate both your crew and the power of the ocean. Rachael Griffin (from M3 and LSP) joined us today and she loved every moment out there. Also slipped in a photo of Mike Grave on GPA zodiac.
This morning was glorious. Calm seas and blue skies gave way to two beautiful humpbacks milling south of Race Rocks. Thought to be a mother and her offspring, these humpbacks have been in our waters all summer, and there are approx 5 if not more sighted here. Caught some beautiful dives, showcasing the big beautiful tail flukes glisening in the sunlight. There were two transient killer whales circling the parameter of the humpbacks, as they have been in the area for the past week. Word has it, the transients have been checking out the humpbacks for a while now. I hope, they do not take one of them as food. We headed over through Race passage and saw the many male pinnipeds covering the rocks and the lighthouse stairs.
We headed on 5 miles east to where we found T100 and others hunting. They had made a kill below the surface and were foraging, each taking turns in groups of 2 and 3, while someone below kept the prey close guarded. The orcas came very close to a few whale watching boats, and I can only imagine what was going through the passengers minds as they looked into the eye of a hunter. After several beautiful passes, we headed home. It isn't every day that we see both killer whales and humpbacks, with the southern residents gone for the past few days, there certainly was not a shortage of animals to look at. We heard there was a 3rd group travling in the Juan De Fuca Strait as well. Last night, T41 and group was sighted inside the Ogden point breakwater, giving local Victorians an amazing spectacle. Not very often do the animals enter the Victoria inner harbour. I was unable to see this however know that this is the same group we saw earlier this week in Oak Bay. I hope they decide to stick around for a while so I can see them from the shoreline. Cheers to a great week out on the water!
I was not on this afternoons trip (was working on the Prince of Whales - Ocean Magic). However 5 star catamaran was visited by the jouvenile humpback who also spyhopped, and exposed his wonderful flukes to everyone. This is the same whale on Mike Grace's flickr site as well as on my site. I hope to learn more about this interesting encounter experienced by those on board that trip.
Victoria (Oak Bay) was graced by some rock star transient orcas (meat eating orcas) - T41 (matriarch), T44 (male), T43 & calf and some rock star behavior this morning. Our naturalist Claire witnessed the group of 4 tendarize then feast on a dalls porpoise. Apparently the orcas were tossing the porpoise around in mid air before feeding (gosh I wished i'd seen this). After that they also fed on a harbour seal and then put on a breaching show!. When we arrived this afternoon in thick fog, we found the group heading south through Oak Bay. They had gone out into Haro Strait but turned around and cruised very closely to the Oak Bay shoreline, giving golfers, marina folks, residents one amazing view. At one point it looked like they were going to enter the marina as they were right at the enterance!.
In one photo, you can see several golfers standing in awe while a transient lay on it's side looking up at them. The large male (T44) took a stroll in some kelp, dragging quite a bunch with him for a bit. We watched them turn the corner near Trial Island then headed to Race Rocks to check out the pinnipeds. We decided to take one last spin on our way home, and checked out the transients once more who were well on their way across the Juan De Fuca Strait when we found them. We caught a beautiful pass of the group before heading home. The last image in my head was seeing the large dorsal fin disolve into the sunset. What an amazing experience today was.
With fog thick along San Juan Island today, we were unable to venture over where JKL pods were reported to be milling. They had come in from out west yesterday morning.
Today was sunny, warm and calm on the water. Quite the change from the past couple of adventurous days earlier this week. We arrived at Hein Bank to find various members of JKL pods hunting. High speed fish chasing, as well as some interesting behavior. We think this is mating behavior, not sure who it was but thought that the female would have been k40 / raggedy and not sure who the others were. She has a distinctive dorsal fin with many "nics" out of it. These are identifiable from the photos.
We set out early this morning (9 am) and since we were the first out, we were also the "scouters" for whales. We headed directly to Hein Bank where often the southern residents and minke whales are found foraging. After an adventurous ride across, we did not find any orcas however did see 2 minke whales. They were quite shy beings and although I did catch a few glimpses, I did not succeed at getting any decent photos. After about half an hour we ventured over to Race Rocks.
The strait was flooding so it was quite the ride over. We arrived and found many pinnipeds hauled up on the rocks. Various types were spotted; california sea lions, stellar sea lions, elephant seals and harbour seals with pups. I also managed to get a photo of one individual with a branding on it's back (see photo). Just as we were preparing to head home, we found out that 3 transient orcas were spotted going westbound off of Otter Point (Sooke). With only a few mins remaining we were unable to see them. Saw several sea birds such as cormortants, common murres, and rhinoceros auklets. Found out later that J, K, and L's were off Sooke inbound. They sure know how to slip out in the middle of the night :)