Victoria Whale Watching Report: Bald Eagles, Humpbacks & More
May 25, 2019
Although it was a cloudy day, our excitement of finding whales was not dampened!
We set out on the Orca Spirit and headed southwest towards the Olympic Penninsula. We searched for signs of our fellow whale watchers as our vessel that departed earlier this morning let us know that they found two tall, black fins!
We found killer whales!
They belonged to two males, T93 and T97 who are known to travel the high seas together.
T93 is believed to have been born in 1963 and T97 was born in 1980. They are mature males that cooperatively hunt together. As we watched these two orcas, another blow in the distance caught our eye! There was another group of (mammal-hunting) orcas coming!
Eventually, the two groups merged and we were able to ID the second family as the T46’s.
The mother of the group, T46, was in the last live capture in Puget Sound’s Budd Inlet in 1976, but thankfully she was released. She is now a great-grandmother. Her huge extended family would never have existed had she been moved to a captive facility.
T46 has two mature sons who are easy to identify because they both have very large and unique notches along the trailing edge of their dorsal fins. She also has another offspring that we do not know if it is a he or a she, but this whale does have a very prominent kink to its dorsal fin.
The gathering of fins was a delight to watch as they would all surface together at the same time. There is nothing quite like the “Kwoof!” sound that orcas make when they exhale.
We left for Race Rocks to show our guests the wonderful place that is Race Rocks Lighthouse. Here we gushed over Ollie, our bachelor sea otter in the area. He entertained us with twists, turns and paw rubs. We also enjoyed the sights of the pinniped family, including the California and Steller Sea Lions and the Harbour Seals.
We also spotted many different marine birds including the Pigeon Guillemots with their bright red legs and feet! We could not be more thrilled as we headed back to port.
Some days you get a boat full of exceptionally excited folks which make for awesome conversations and interesting questions. This evening was one of those nights as we set out on the Orca Spirit with guests eager to see whales. We were fortunate to find orcas approximately 8 nautical miles from the Victoria Harbour.
The T065A’s were the family we got to spend the night with! This family is made up of a mom, and her 5 kids!
The whales and their birth years are as follows: T065A (the mom) born in 1986, T065A2 (the big male) born in 2004, T065A3 born in 2007, T065A4 born in 2011, T065A5 born in 2014, and finally, T065A6 born just last year!
With the help of one the lovely guests on board this trip, we were able to figure out that T065A5 is, in fact, a boy!
The whales were very active this evening!
Not only were they spy hopping, but they were cartwheeling, tail slapping and breaching!
The leader of the family is T65A, a female born in 1986. She has proven to be a very successful mother with 6 offspring, 5 of who are still alive and well today.
The youngest is just under a year old and the second youngest, T65A5 likes to teach his or her sibling about life in the big blue.
These local Transient Orcas will often meet up with other family units to socialize, hunt together, and of course-mate! They will never interact with the Southern Resident Orcas who only eat fish. The two different eco-types of killer whales speak different languages, have different social structures, different cultures, along with having very different diets. They use the same areas, but they tend to just avoid each other’s space.
It was an unforgettable evening on the water with guests who were thrilled to have the opportunity to meet such an amazing family of orcas!
A big thank you to our guests for all their enthusiasm and curiosity! We sincerely enjoyed having you all aboard!