What an adventure today! We found 2 humpbacks (mom and calf) in thick fog out in the Juan de Fuca Strait. We rode some big waves with wall to wall fog around us. Finally we arrived on scene to find a VERY active calf, cartwheeling, tail fluking, pectoral fluking etc. With the fog, it made for some very dramatic viewings. After we headed to Race Rocks where we viewed the many stellar sea lions on the rocks. A mystic day in the fog and always an adventure.
Transient orca gathered west of Race Rocks late Wednesday afternoon. Multiple orca pods and individuals were socializing and feeding on an unknown prey item. The Five Star FastCat stayed with the playful and surface vocalizing orca until sunset.
Transient orca pod north of Beaumont Shoal, in Haro Strait attack a Harbour porpoise.
The orca spent nearly 20 minutes using the event as a predatory learning opportunity for the orca calf (possibly T-101C).
The adult whales seemed to encourage the youngest to participate and the calf was seen to attempt to chase after and leap upon the rapidly weakening porpoise. Here in the photo T-101 or 101A (not sure, speculating) drives the porpoise into the air after rapidly striking it.
An amazing sight and powerful reminder of who is boss in the sea.
Today we had the T20s (T21 and her brother T20) and the T100s (T100, T100B, T100C, and T100D), with T102. In the morning, we witnessed the transients surfing the wake of a large cargo vessel. In the afternoon, we watched the T20s travel past Roche Harbour in Mosquito passage and then went into Haro Strait to watch the T100s and T102. View the photos for the events of Haro Strait! Note: Photos zoomed in and cropped in.
Both days we were in the company of the delightful T30's, who have been very convieniently located just off Race Rocks for all trips! T30c has been very boisterous, with breaches and tail lobs! We have seen many behaviours over the past 4 days with this family, and from talking to other whale watching companies, they too have seen many! Porpoises in the mouth of orcas and floating seal intestines hooked out of the water. All music to the ears of a Marine Biologist!
3 trips today for FastCat. We set off at 9am, with the intention of finding whales! As always! Captain Trev's keen eyes found the T30's out by the VG buoy. They were splashing around and causing alot of white water indicating a possible kill. Our day consisted of watching this family of 4 in the same area more or less, until 6pm that evening. It was wonderful. We saw the youngest perform 2 breaches, and a few spyhops from T30! We visited Race Rocks on 2 out of the 3 trips, and everyone on board enjoyed seeing these great pinnipeds. The afternoon trip had bow riding Dall's porpoises as well, so a great variety to the day for guests and crew on board! Enjoy the below T30 video from the afternoon and evening, and a clip from Race Rocks ...
Our morning trip had a wonderful variety of encounters. We visited the harbour seals in Chain Islets, and then ventured on south of Discovery Island, where Ian on Cetacean had found a minke whale in the glassy waters of the morning. The people on board were very enthusiastic, and enjoyed the encounter, and the searching for where the minke would pop up next! We then had bow riding Dall's porpoises on the way to Race Rocks, where we saw the seals and sealions. The afternoon trip found us in the company of the T30's who were south bound in Boundary Strait. The T30's consist of T30 herself, her eldest son, and 2 other juveniles. Excellent encounter. Enjoy the 2 video links below...
Transients (T12s, T41s, T100s, T101s, and T109s) were observed within the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In addition, the whale watching operations from the San Juan Islands spent the afternoon observing the T30s. We also spent some time in Race Rocks Marine Protected Area (MPA) with two types of Sea Lions and the Harbour seal. To finish the afternoon trip off we observed a cow teaching her calf hunting techniques with a young Harbour porpoise. Enjoy the photos! Note: Photos are zoomed in and normally transients are observed in small groupings....so to observe numerous transients travelling together is amazing.
Wow, wow, and another wow for good measure. With just over a week left for me this season on the boats, today seemed like a early early send off spectacle! If the last 8 days of transients wasn't enough for us, it appears that all the T's got together in their groups to have a fly by Victoria, on their way west. There must have been approx. 30+ transients in range!
Having spent most of the morning trip in mid Juan de Fuca strait, searching for whales, to then be told over the radio there were T's off Discovery Island, Victoria - grrr. We got to them, and were able to view 8-9 of them as they travelled in synchrony past Victoria, with another 7-8 behind them, a 3rd group off Hein Bank, and inbound T12's from Otter Point! Incredible. The movie link here shows the leading group off Victoria ...
This video, had to be embedded in the blog. Our 2pm trip .. We had just gone through Race Rocks, and viewed the seals and sealions, and we were sat off West Race as the T44 and T41 group came round and past Race from the south side ...
These T's then continued past north Race, and ventured west!
We decided to go and see inbound T12 and her son T12A, over in Becher Bay ...
As the Race Rocks group we'd just seen, passed the the inshore T12's, the T12's were lunging and splashing around, supposedly with a kill! Incredible! So, thinking that this amazing afternoon trip could not possibly get any better, we stopped to view the last little group of transients, and low and behold we were all in for a surprise! National Geographic and David Attenborough eat your heart out .. We witnessed a female and juvenile toying, and playing cat and mouse with a young harbour porpoise. With the vessel shut down, we watched raw nature unfold before our very eyes. Do excuse the screaming from Marine Biologist Jacklyn, and the uncontrolable breathing and heart palpatations from myself. We do try and be professional, but times like this .. all professionalism out of the window! View the below links in order, and enjoy ...
Well well well. Another day of transients! It really is beginning to seem like the residents have swopped the Salish Sea with the transients for a week or two. Maybe they have a timeshare agreement?! This morning we encountered what we believed to be the T100's having a kelp bath off North Race Rocks, whilst the T10's zipped by and headed east towards San Juan. This first video of T10 herself, is added here by request of the passengers on board this morning..
Our afternoon trip found us out west of Race Rocks with the T100 group, who were hugging the shoreline from Secretary Island all the way to Sooke Basin. They were very close in shore all trip, seemingly trying to surprise any snoozy seals on the rocks! As you can see from the video documentary below, we had shut down, allowing the T's to continue on past, westbound, but they turned and beelined past us, to the delight of all, and headed ... east!
Never ever predict a transient orca's behaviour, they will always surprise you and do the opposite! Keep re-writing the text book! Race Rocks was a delight as always on both trips, on our way home to Victoria!
Wow, what a great interesting day! We had an early 8am trip with the people from the Regal cruise ship, and off we set, south and then west. We havent seen our residents in 6 days, and were all hoping they'd be on their way back. No luck, but a call from Adam, on Adam's fishing charters, he found a humpback! It was a young adult, and was very friendly, surfacing several times by our shut down vessel. It was quite the sight to see him/her plunge down into the abyss down and under us! Amazing. Watch these 2 videos...
Our afternoon trip had us out west again with 4 inbound transients, a male, 2 females and a calf. So after watching these animals for 30 minutes, we headed further south where FastCat had been accompanied by bowriding Dall's porpoises for the past 20 minutes! As FastCat left, the Dall's made a beeline for our bow and continued their antics. It was remarkable. Enjoy the Dall's video below!
Up to two dozen individual Transient Orca hav been sighted all around the Salish Sea this week. Today, Cap'n Sherry from Seacoast spotted 8-10 T-100 clan orca near Constance Bank. Constance is located three miles south of the Victoria Harbour entrance.
Our Fastcat morning trip was spent with no word of any orca north, east, south or west! So we did what we always do ... go and try and find them! No orca or larger pelagic whales were to be seen out south in the straits and along the Juan de Fuca. We got to see our favourite Race Rocks, and with a seal enthusiast on board, it made for a great trip! Our afternoon trip had word once again of transient orca up in Boundary Pass by East Point. So, having not learnt our lesson yesterday, we ventured up there, to then hear on the radio these 4 transients (Male T103 and 3 ladies) were north west of East Point! We saw them, and had a fabulous trip, and even saw a female spyhop twice! See below 2 video links! Long trip, but once again very well worth it!
Our Thursday morning trip was spent out south west, looking for our cetacean friends. No such luck, but with a trip full of California sealions, Stellar sealions, harbour seals, elephant seals, turkey vultures, bald eagles, a bull kelp harvest and talk, and a doe and fawn white tailed deer close to the shoreline .... everyone on board was very happy! The afternoon brought word of transient orca in Boundary Pass! As we got closer, the report turned into Georgia strait (further north, and further to go!), so with Point Roberts in sight, we viewed 11-12 transient killer whales in a seemingly relaxed playful state, non directional! See short video clip below..
Long trip, but well worth it for everyone on board!
With reports of transients somewhere off Albert Head (just off Victoria waterfront), we were all optimistic in finding them. Alas, the fog must have clouded them from sight as we could not see any orcas anywhere! We saw Race Rocks in such thick fog that when we drifted through, the lighthouse was very difficult to see! Made it all the more enchanting though! By the afternoon trip we learnt that J pod were west bound from Point No Point, way out west. We made an early start, and decided to go for it. One of the other vessels, Mike on Kodiak, radioed to say he had transients off Sooke (right where we were!), so with a relief sigh we had a great visit with T100 and her 3 kids! Excellent! See below video link!
We encounted a bigball of feed that was satisfying the gulls, and as we drifted by, it appeared to be being driven to the surface by a much larger fish down there!! Maybe a small shark!
SuperCats afternoon trip had the Cwmbach male choir from Wales on board! We saw the T100's up by D'arcy Island, and then with a group of 5 other transients that included T20, a male with a distinct square nick at the top of his dorsal fin. The crew were treated to a sample song from the men on board (see 3rd video link). Excellent!
By the time our evening trip came around the transients were too far away for us due to the early sunset. We had a wonderful time out west though, with 100's of harbour and Dall's porpoises south of Race Rocks, in flat calm seas. There were also 10's of thousands of seabirds! We were convinced we'd find a humpback, minke or fin whale, to no avail. Race Rocks was as stunning as ever, baked in a gorgeous sunset light.
For our friends, shipmates and kindred spirits I created a little download-poster of this very young Transient Orca. One of the T-100 Clan whales we watched swim north this afternoon. Please enjoy this mini-poster from the 5 Star Expedition Cat crew. It has been a wonderful summer of whale encounters and moments like the one in the picture are make a rich memory.
Jeff, Merina and myself were joined by some extremely excited and happy passengers today on FastCat's 12:30 trip. We headed out to find Superpod spread out a few miles off of the southwest side of San Juan Island. As we enjoyed the last few minutes with the Southern Residents, we received word of four transient orca at the south end of Baynes Channel.
Enjoy these photos from our trip! Please remember, once again, all photos are taken with a zoom lens and are remastered on my computer. For more pics, www.flickr.com/photos/chelseastanley/
Our yawning 8am trip had us all fully awake by the time we arrived at San Juan Island, because what we thought were just the L12's at Eagle Point turned out to be K's and L's! The blows offshore then indicated J pod too, due to our distinctive Ruffles out there! Fabulous! See (hear!) video link below to listen to the wonderful repetoire we had from the hydrophone!
With news that J's were heading north up San Juan Island for the afternoon trip, we visited with K's and L's offshore of San Juan Island. We had saw K22 and her new calf, who is still a brand new orange-black colour! We even got to see the T100's which had been lurking in Oak Bay/Cordova Bay all day! Excellent!