October 17, 2017

The Extra Mile to Find Orcas and Humpbacks - 10/13/2017

T11 Surfacing

[Naturalist Sarah – 10/13/2017 – M/V Sea Lion – 12:00pm]

On Friday we had a lovely trip to find wildlife. We enjoyed beautiful water as we cruised over to the Canadian border and towards Victoria. On these fall days sometimes we need to go a bit out of our way to find whales and other wildlife. Captain Mike and I decided to go the extra mile to show our guests some orcas!

Just outside of the city’s harbor we found the T011s, a mother-son pair of orcas. This is one of my favorite families of orcas found in our waters. T011 “Wakana” and her adult son T011A “Rainy” perfectly illustrate the lifelong bond between mother and calf. These two whales are rarely seen farther than a body length from one another, even though T011A, born in 1978, is one of the largest orcas in our waters! We had amazing looks at the whales as they travelled west towards Race Rocks Ecological Reserve.

As we were watching the orcas, we caught a glimpse of a blow in the background! A humpback whale! Not even a mile from the killer whales we found this massive whale circling and feeding in the nutrient-rich upwelling just off of Victoria. We had a great encounter with this incredible animal; we even got to see it fluke-up raising its enormous tail into the air.

After leaving the whales we headed back east catching glimpses of shy harbor porpoise and several species of our seabirds here in that Salish Sea. As we reached Cattle Pass between San Juan Island and Lopez Island we found Steller’s sea lions hauled out on Whale Rocks. We watched the sea lions squabble and then headed north up San Juan Channel towards Friday Harbor.

Please enjoy some photos from the day!