Captain’s Blog

Humpback Whale & Race Rocks Ecological Reserve

June 25, 2018

On our morning tour we headed West towards Sooke harbour. While on the way we were on the scout for big tall blows from the surface of the water. It took about an hour to reach the location and we were lucky to spot a humpback! We were really able to see the sheer size of a humpback, which was comparable to our vessel. These animals can reach up to 52ft long and weigh anywhere between 25-40 tonnes. In the area here on Vancouver Island, we are able to identify and take part in humpback research by photographing their dorsal fin and the bottom of their fluke. Although we did not see the fluke from this humpback, we were able to get a really great look at the back scarring and dorsal fin shape. After spending some time with the friendly humpback we headed along the beautiful coast line of Sooke on our way home.

During the afternoon the waters were very quiet for sightings in the area so we decided to take it slow along our coast line, heading west, to be able to scan for any big tall dorsal fins or exhales from larger whales. Along our way we toured through Race Rocks Ecological Reserve and viewed our local harbour seals, sea lions, birds, and sea otter. Even though at this time the Steller and California Sea Lions are away for mating season, there was one California Sea Lion who decided to stay and say hello. We were also able to spot one of our Elephant Seals moving around on land. Race Rocks has become the most northern mating point for Elephant Seals. They can grow up to 3.7m and weigh up to 5500 pounds. It is only the males that get the iconic elephant-like trunk, and is full grown at 5 years old. As we toured we were also able to spot our local sea otter, Ollie! He is the only sea otter we have here due to extirpation in the area. It has just been him for about 4 years now and he has no real predators due to his thick fur; they have about 1 million hair follicles in one square inch. Along with the interesting mammals we also saw pigeon guillemots, oyster catchers, and a juvenile eagle. We know it was a juvenile eagle as they stay a brown colour on their head until they are about 5 years old, and then they get the iconic white feathered head. After seeing so much wildlife at Race Rocks we headed to Constance bank to continue looking for whales. Unfortunately we eventually ran out of time but had a smooth and scenic drive home to Victoria.

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