Bald Eagles, Seals & Humpback Whales
June 23, 2018
It was a beautiful start to our Saturday morning trip with blue skies and the sun shining over the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We began our search to the southwest, scanning the horizon for splashes, misty exhales or fins. We ended up close to Race Rocks Lighthouse where we were so excited to see our Bald Eagles’ 2 new chicks for the first time this year! We had Mom and Dad on one little island, and the two new chicks sitting close together on another. It is amazing how big they are already, but it will take a few years before they have their white heads and tail feathers.
The eagles are not alone when it comes to raising new babies. Harbour seals are just beginning the pupping season, and we saw dozens of these furry creatures along the waterline on the islands in the area. They range from grey, to cream, to black to white, and they all sport dark spots to help them blend in with the background.
The lighthouse itself is a wonder to see as it is the second oldest lighthouse on the Pacific coast of Canada! They light was functional for the first time on December 26th, 1860. It has an iconic black and white tower and is made of rough-cut granite blocks, giving it tons of charm and character. Marine birds love to live here and we spotted lots of the red-footed Pigeon Guillemots in the water or on the islands.
We continued on our way and were over the moon to hear that a mother humpback and her calf were spotted! We cruised over to the location and found Mom teaching her little one to fluke, but this little ball of blubber just could not get that tail above the surface. It will come in time little humpback! We say that the babies are little, but they really are huge. They are born weighing approximately a ton and stretching out over 12 feet or 4m. Mothers need to feed their calves 500 litres of mile per day! This allows calves to gain 45kg or over 100 pounds every 24 hours! Yikes!
We motored our way back to Victoria, happy to have seen so many amazing west coast animals. The circle of life was quite apparent this morning as we saw feathered, furry and smooth-skinned creatures all in the throws of parenthood. Check out some great shots of our trip on our Flickr page! On to the next adventure.
For our evening tours we travelled SW to an area that the last heard whales were recorded an hour before our departure time. Once we were at the last known location, we had slowed the boat down all the way to take a really good look. It did not take long before there was a call on the radio that the boat behind us had 2 male humpbacks feeding, there were also 2 humpbacks just ahead of us at the PA buoy. Moving forward we decided to stay with the 2 that were close to us at the PA buoy, and we were glad we did! The two ended up being a mother and a very playful calf. We got some great looks at the dorsal fins and flukes, then to top it all of the calf showed off for us with a few breaches before we decided to part ways and make our way home during a beautiful sunset.