J-Pod Orcas, Humpback Whales & Race Rocks Ecological Reserve
October 8, 2018
On Monday morning we departed Victoria harbor aboard the Pacific Explorer and headed southwest into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. There had been morning reports of J-Pod (part of the Southern Resident killer whale population) fishing in the strait. It was not long until we saw the characteristic large black fin of a male killer whale break the surface of the water in the distance. Upon getting closer we were able to identify the two whales as J27 (Blackberry) and L87 (Onyx). The pair of males were chasing salmon. The rest of J-Pod was spread out in the area and we had several of the females cruise past our boat and when we were quiet we could hear the whooshing noises of their breath.
After spending time with J-Pod we began to travel towards Race Rocks in hopes of seeing other marine life. On the way we spotted a pair of humpback whales traveling side by side at the surface for several breaths before arching their backs, showing their tails and disappearing beneath the surface of the water. Once we arrived at Race Rocks we were greeted by very noisy Steller and California sea lions hauled out on the rocks. The smaller, quieter harbor seals blinked up lazily at us from their rocky perches. After visiting Race Rocks we began to head back towards Victoria harbor and were able to spot several species of seabirds on the way.