July 25, 2017 – L-Pod Orcas, Humpback Whale & Race Rocks Marine Ecological Reserve
July 25, 2017
It was another lovely day on the waters surrounding south Vancouver Island. We were looking for the tell-tale signs of whales in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. With flat calm waters, it was easy to spot our first spout from a humpback whale! We were able to see this baleen giant surface many times before showing us it’s beautiful and powerful tail flukes! Humpbacks are consuming tons of food here from spring until late fall, so that they have enough fat (all 40 tons of them) to survive their migration south to Mexico or Hawaii and then return to us again in the spring. It is fascinating to watch how graceful such a massive whale can be!
We then received a radio message that orcas were spotted to the southwest! We made out way to the area and were greeted by L-pod, one of our resident orca families. Crewser caught our eye with his uniquely shaped dorsal fin. The family of 35 was spread out everywhere as they made their way west in search of Chinook salmon.
Our last stop was at Race Rocks Lighthouse where low tide exposed all the rich types of kelp, mussels and barnacles. Enjoying the sun where California and Steller sea lions, along with dozens of harbour seals. Near the staircase on the island with the lighthouse, rested 2 HUGE male elephant seals! These boys grow to over 3,000 pounds and 20 feet in length! Smaller in size, but equal in beauty, was a bald eagle scoping out the scene on a nearby islet. Another spectacular day was in the books!
We departed the dock on the MV Pacific Explorer and proceeded south in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in search of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises). We encountered a single individual humpback whale forgaging in the lumpy seas off of William Head. After several sightings of this individual, 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 haul-out site for Steller sea lions and California sea lions. We observed both the Pacific harbour seal and northern sea lions (Steller) were observed as well on helicopter rock. A choppy afternoon on the water.