Monday, April 27, 2009

Spectacular Encounter with Transient Orcas! April 26th, 2009.

Large Spyhop
Seal Pup, this little guy almost became the Transient Orcas next meal!
Spyhop above and below, this happened after the Orcas had made a kill and were feeding on the remains.

The Orcas spent several minutes switching directions as they finished off their kill.

Transient Orcas heading across Juan De Fuca Strait

Notice the rake marks on this female, probably from another Orca during socializing.

We came across 5 transient Orcas today and first sighted them near Race Rocks.

It was an excellent day to be on the water but conditions were perfect for sailing:)

Eagles Nest
Immature Eagles, one that has just got its white head feathers, at Race Rocks.

Northern Elephant Seal relaxes in the sun, nice life:)
Steller Sealion at Race Rocks

Today was my 40th Birthday and to celebrate I decided to head out with our crew for the 2pm tour and what a birthday treat it turned out to be, our passengers seemed to enjoy this magnificent day as well;)

We first stopped near Haystock Island to check out the Eagles Nest that we have been visiting almost daily to observe the Eagles that are nesting there.

Then it was off to Race Rocks as we had earlier received reports of 5 Transient Orcas travelling East from Sooke. As we got near to Race Rocks sure enough we caught sight of the Orcas in tw separate groups looking like they were in hunting mode. These top Ocean predators are attracted to our area by the abundance of prey including Harbor Seals, Harbor & Dalls Porpoise as well as the Sealions and Elephant Seals. For the Transient Orcas the Salish Sea is like a smorgas board and they can pick and choose what they want for their next meal! We observed the Orcas moving along the coast line and as they were making 7 minute dives we decided now would be a good time to visit Race Rocks.

At Race Rocks we saw various animals that the Transient Orcas feed on including the Harbor Seals, Steller & California Sealions and the largest prey, the Northern Elephant Seals that can reach 13 feet long and weight 4000 lbs!!! Whilst at Race Rocks we also saw 2 immature Bald Eagles.

Next we headed back into the Strait Of Juan De Fuca to observe the Transient Orcas again. The Orcas were now travelling together and looked again as if they were hunting. We saw a number of Harbor Seals and Porpoise in the area and sure enough not long after the Orcas made a kill under water. We then observed the Orcas picking off the remains of their kill and witnessed a number of spyhops, tailslaps and logging (where an Orca sits floating at the surface).

The Transient Orcas were eventually identified as the T49's.

With the amazing spring weather it was a breathtaking tour and the perfect Birthday present for me:)

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