Victoria Whale Watching Report: Humpback Whales, Seals & Sea Lions
May 29, 2019
It was a cloudy morning but still a great day to get out on the water and look for the wonders of the marine world!
With great news from our zodiac captain who left an hour before us, we cruised over towards San Juan Island, Washington. This island is home to the Center for Whale Research who conduct studies on both orcas and humpback whales.
As we slowed to a near stop, we spotted the bushy clouds of mist being emitted by not one but two humpbacks!
Humpbacks have started to trickle into our local waters over the past month, making each day an opportunity to see the largest species of cetacean found in the Salish Sea.
These two humpbacks spent lots of time at the surface with their longer dives only last 3 minutes exactly- we timed them! With tail flukes raised high, we were able to ID one right away as Heather (BCY0160).
Heather is a favourite in the area, having visited us for many years from spring through fall. Heather is known to come back from the warm waters to the south with a calf every two years. It is very special to see her offspring return to our waters on their own each year as they grow into adults themselves.
With really keen guests helping us ID the second humpback, we were not entirely sure who the second humpback was. We narrowed it down to two whales and naturalist Rachael was able to confirm that it was indeed Raptor (BCY0458) after another visit with the whales in the afternoon.
Thanks to all the great guests for helping in the ID fun!
We capped the trip off with a visit to Chain Islands to check out the different species of marine birds and chunky Harbour Seals resting on the rocks. Captain Mick raced by us with his zodiac full of excited guests on the way home.
It was such a fun and exciting morning on the water!
We were excited to see the sun come out and blue skies prevail this afternoon as we entered onto the Juan de Fuca Strait in search of whales and other marine wildlife.
With humpbacks spotted this morning, we made our way east in hopes of relocating the same animals. Heather (BCY0160) and Raptor (BCY0458), two humpbacks, did not move too far away from where we spotted them in the morning.
Humpbacks are amazing whales to watch with their 15 foot long pectoral fins and enormous tails. We were able to see the power of these whales’ tails as one breached out of the water! It was amazing!
They must have been in a playful mood because the breach was followed by several minutes of pectoral fin slaps, the sound from the banging fins could be heard hundreds of meters away!
Heather and Raptor are not related but they have been seen swimming together over the past week. Humpbacks do not live in pods but they are social animals. They often hang around other humpbacks when they are in the same area at the same time. Here they bulk up on herring, plankton and krill, storing the needed fat for next falls long migration south to Mexico, Hawaii, or Costa Rica.
After an absolutely breath-taking afternoon with the humpbacks, we checked out the scenic Chatham Island and Rum Runner’s Cove where we found Harbour Seals and a Great Blue Heron soaring in the sky.
The Chain Islands revealed dozens more Harbour Seals, the sleek black Cormorants and hundreds of gulls. Even more wildlife was to be found as we cruised by Trial Island Lighthouse where we found a handsome Bald Eagle perched on a sign.
We also spotted something leaping through the water neat Trial Island which turned out to be a juvenile Steller Sea Lion. This is not a common area to see sea lions, but he or she must have been on an expedition to search for food or maybe they were just enjoying the sights of a different location.
We snapped some great pictures of it that you can find in the trip’s album on our Flicker page.
It was another fantastic day on the waters surround Victoria!