Victoria Whale Watching Report: Humpback Whales & Race Rocks Ecological Reserve
May 30, 2019
It was a beautiful morning as we set out in the Juan de Fuca Strait in search of whales and other marine mammals.
Juan de Fuca Strait is a busy passage for whales and has been coined as whale highway, as they need to pass through these water in order to get to their favourite feeding grounds.
The conditions near Victoria and the surrounding area were clear and calm. But yet again the middle of the Strait had another surprise for us – thick fog and steady swells.
With visibility at only around 100 meters, we had to approach the most recent whale sighting area very cautiously. As we entered the thick fog we were greeted with the distinct and unpleasant odour of decaying fish and krill. That’s when we knew were on the trail of some humpbacks!
Through the fog we could faintly make out one fluke, then another!
In our sights were Heather and Raptor, 2 female humpbacks that are often seen feeding together in our waters. They were going on several minute dives and feeding on the bounty of krill in the water column. Humpback whales need to eat a lot while they visit these waters, roughly 1000 pounds of food a day!
It was a memorable morning spent with these 2 gentle giants, and definitely of for the books!
With the end of May upon us, we set out on the Juan de Fuca Strait to search for wildlife of the Salish Sea.
We are always on the lookout for both baleen and toothed whale species. The most common whales that come into our area are Orcas, Humpbacks and Harbour Porpoises. But we can also see Grey Whales, Minke Whales and Dall’s Porpoises, which have all been spotted several times this spring!
We searched along the shoreline as we headed west. Other vessels sped into the fog bank to try and relocate two humpbacks that were found in the morning. By splitting up, the whale watching vessels can cover the greatest area of water and then report back to each other on where they have searched and if they have or have not found anything.
The fog bank continued to grow and enveloped Race Rocks Lighthouse. We were still able to make out the bulky bodies of the Steller and California Sea Lions that were sprawled out on the dock stairway. Even Ollie the one and only sea otter was visible in the Bull Kelp bed off Helicopter Rock!
Harbour Seals were not phased by the fog as they napped on the islets, many with large, pregnant tummies.
We searched to the south and east along the edge of the fog bank, keeping our eyes peeled for irregular water movement, fins and exhales. We stopped in Rum Runners Cover off Chatham Island to take in the sights of the beautiful Arbutus Trees and a lone Bald Eagle perched atop a tall tree.
We then looked through the Chain Islands where we found Red-footed Pigeon Guillemots, cormorants and more Harbour Seals.
As we made our way back to the Victoria Harbour, we stopped near Trial Island where a mating pair of Bald Eagles kept watch atop a rock and more Harbour Seals littered the shorelines and small islets.
Trial Island Lighthouse, built in 1906, looked very picturesque with the snow-capped Olympic Mountains in the background. It was a pleasant afternoon on the water with many different species of wildlife discovered.