Transient Orcas, Harbour Seals & Bald Eagles
June 28, 2018
Every day that we set out on the water is completely different from the next. The wild nature of the animals that we are searching for ensures that each trip is a unique experience. Sometimes wildlife surprises us by showing up at our front door – a pod of Transient killer whales recently visited the inner harbor – and other times it remains elusive.
On Thursday morning we set our course out southwest along the coastline towards Sooke with the hopes of finding whales. Shortly into our journey the captain’s radio buzzed with a potential sighting. There was a pod of Transient killer whales traveling in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but they were quite a distance away from our position. We steamed ahead, hoping to catch up to them but killer whales are a notoriously fast traveling species.
Mother Nature appeared to be on our side this morning because the pod of whales started heading inbound, heading towards us. When we met up with the pod we were delighted to see that they had a calf with them. The calf still had a pink tinge to its’ white markings, indicating that he or she is quite young. We counted five dorsal fins all together making this a relatively large Transient family group.
This afternoon we departed the inner harbour aboard the Pacific Explorer, setting our course towards Race Rocks Marine Protected Area, traveling close to the coast. Earlier in the day we had encountered a pod of Transient orca patrolling the coastline, heading inbound through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In hopes of meeting up with the orca again we headed out towards where we had last seen them. To our delight it only took a short journey to catch up with the orca. We began to see their black fins in the distance just past Race Rocks lighthouse. Traveling alongside the whales we counted five fins in total. One member of the pod was an adorable calf whose white markings still had a pink hue, indicating that he or she is quite young.
We took a detour through Race Rocks to visit the very nervous colony of harbor seals hauled out on the rocks. It must be very nerve wracking for the seals to watch their number one predator cruise past their home. At Race Rocks we also saw the resident couple of bald eagles perched upon the rocks, likely scouring for fish in the kelp beds to feed their hungry chicks. We wished the harbor seals good luck and turned back towards Victoria, keeping close to the coast again in hopes of glimpsing the orca again. We quickly caught up to the pod of whales and slowed down to spend as much time with them as possible before heading back to the harbor.