Celebrating Mother’s Day with Humpback Whale, Sea Otter, Seals & Sea Lions
May 13, 2018
What a glorious morning to be celebrating Mother’s Day here in Victoria! The air was warm and the sun was shining as we left our James Bay dock. As we passed Ogden Point, all the Captains in the fleet split up to search the waters of the Salish Sea. Captain Liz whisked us away to the west where calm seas made for excellent conditions to spot those misty puffs of breath from a whale or splashes from fins slaps or breaches.
We headed in Beacher Bay to see if any mammal-hunting killer whales were lurking the shoreline for unsuspecting seals. We didn’t find orcas, but we did find harbour seals, two bald eagles and enjoyed the beautiful scenery around us. As we continued our search we received a radio call from a fellow whale watching boat who said thy may have seen a blow. We cruised towards them to see if we could confirm if a whale was in the area.
It took awhile to get to the area but we were rewarded with an amazing humpback! Humpback whales are some of the greatest mothers in the animal kingdom. You have to be a great mom if you can teacher your offspring everything they need to know to survive in the world in just one year! Humpback calves are born in warm waters off Mexico, Hawaii or Costa Rica. They travel with their moms north for our spring, summer and fall and then return to warm waters again. It is at this point that mother and calf part ways and the calf is ready to take on life on its own.
After spending time with this humpback, watching it surface and exhale big breaths followed by tail fluking into the deep, we headed back to the harbour. It was a wonderful way to celebrate Mother’s Day. We hope all the moms out there enjoyed time with family and felt as special as they truly are!
This lovely Sunday where we are celebrating Moms in Canada, continued into the afternoon. It was hot, sunny and the waters were calm and smooth. With our Captain Mom known as Liz, we headed out onto the Strait of Juan de Fuca in search of all things marine life. The view of the Olympic Mountains was stunning as we headed southwest towards the Victor Gulf buoy in the middle of the strait.
We slowed down the Orca Mist because we thought we may have seen something. Waiting with abated breath, we saw the breath of a humpback float up into the air! It is so exciting not only to see a whale surfacing, but to actually hear that powerful exhale as the humpback breaks the surface of the water. We got to watch this humpback surface 4 times in a row, arching its back higher and higher each time it popped up. On the fourth surfacing, we were treated to the sight of the humpback’s massive tail- which spans 18 feet across at maturity! This humpy could have been resting or traveling casually as it seemed to be very relaxed. All whales sleep throughout the day and night, they just do so with half their brain at a time. What excellent multi-taskers they are!
After a wonderful experience with this humpback, we made our way over to the nearby lighthouse known as Race Rocks. Standing as a beacon in the dark and foggy weather since 1860, Race Rocks is home to California and Steller sea lions who love to joust for the best position on the rock, soaking up the warm sunshine. A brave California sea lion even muscled his way around a huge bull elephant seal, easily 4 times his weight!
We spotted a bald eagle on the islets, eying up the waters for an opportunity to catch a fish. It is mating season for the eagles, so we have often been seeing just one eagle from the pair at a time. Someone needs to keep the eggs warm and someone needs to catch the food! Harbour seals were also enjoying the sun, just in a much more calm fashion than the sea lions. Ollie the sea otter stole the show as his adorable, fuzzy blonde face poked out among the bull kelp beds. He rolled around and preened his fur, looking back curiously at all the faces and cameras looking at him.
We could not have asked for a more beautiful day on the water, which matched all the beautiful Moms out there who we were celebrating! We wish all Moms a Happy Mother’s Day and hope to see you again soon!