Captain’s Blog

Gherkin the Humpback Whale & Transient Orcas

September 12, 2018

As summer is winding down and cool fall air starts to make its way into Victoria, we still have plenty of whale watching left to accomplish in the Strait of Juan de Fuca! Our morning trip on September 12th began with sunny skies and flat waters. We headed out of the Victoria harbour and went west on the Catalina Adventure. As searched for any trace of wildlife on the surface, we cruised past the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve to observe the activities of our local pinnipeds. After spending time with our California and Steller Sea Lions, we caught a glimpse of some large splashes on the outskirts of Race Rocks. It was our favourite little humpback, lovingly named Gherkin, feeding and playing close to shore. We spent some time watching Gherkin lunge feed, breach, and tail slap. Gherkin in a peculiar whale – being much smaller than most juvenile humpbacks would be this time of year, we believe growth was stunted as result of being separated from mom at some point along the migration route. As result, Gherkin is more erratic and unpredictable that most humpbacks, most likely having never learned a lot of behaviours from mom. Nevertheless it is nice to watch the little whale enjoying what our strait has to offer.

Our afternoon and evening trips were just as successful, with a meet up with some of our Transient Orcas. The group is known as the T49As, identified using their saddle patches located behind the dorsal fins. Saddle patches are the equivalent of human fingerprints and are completely unique for every single orca. We spent our allowed 30 minutes enjoying these mammal-hunting whales before checking out the wildlife at Race Rocks.

Thank you for enjoying a great day full of wildlife out on the Salish Sea!

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