Captain’s Blog

May 4, 2017 – Humpback Whale and Race Rocks Marine Ecological Reserve

May 4, 2017

We departed the harbour this morning and transited along the Southwest shoreline of Vancouver Island on the lovely calm waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The vessel transited of the SW tip of Vancouver Island and proceeded to the west in search of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises). After sometime transiting along the shoreline, we proceeded to Race Rocks Marine Ecological Reserve. It has the second oldest lighthouse on our coastline. Race Rocks is a year-round haulout for harbour seals and a winter haulout site for Steller sea lions and California sea lions. Additionally, northern elephant seals utilize the rocks around Race Rock to molt. We spotted a single male sea otter in the kelp beds. Pacific Explorer transited East in the Strait of Juan de Fuca with passengers and crew still seeking out cetaceans. As the vessel turned towards the direction of the Victoria harbour, and passengers were treated to the blow and back of a subadult humpback whale. We observed several fluking dives and some pectoral fin waving and slapping, prior to making our way back into the harbour.

This afternoon we departed the dock and proceeded into a south direction in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Several eyes spotted the sudden surfacing of a subadult humpback whale. The Pacific Explorer transited alongside the traveling humpback whale, which was cruising along rather lazily. The humpback whale then jolted into a fury of activity, with the individual cartwheeling, as well as pectoral fin waving as it rolled along the surface. It then dove for a longer dive and disappeared for a short period of time…..then boom the humpback erupted from the water in a full swirling breach. We departed the individual shortly after a couple more surfacings and made our way to Race Rocks Marine Ecological Reserve. It has the second oldest lighthouse on our coastline. Race Rocks is a year-round haulout for harbour seals and a winter haulout site for Steller sea lions and California sea lions. Additionally, northern elephant seals utilize the rocks around Race Rock to molt. We spotted a single male sea otter in the kelp beds off the north side of helicopter rock. We observed a wide variety of social behaviours at Race Rocks prior to departing back to Victoria. It was a beautiful afternoon on the water.

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