Victoria Whale Watching Report: Killer Whales, Sea Lions & More
May 24, 2019
This morning we got to see a variety of what the Salish Sea has to offer! We made our way out of the harbour in hunt of the mammals which everyone so anxiously wanted to see!
Not too long into our trip, there was a whisper of a glimpse of a dorsal fin!
With a bit of searching, we found 2 male Killer Whales. These boys are typically seen travelling together, without any other members of their family. These two males are known as T093 and T097.
T093 was estimated to be born in 1963, making him 56 and tied for the second oldest male Killer Whale around Victoria. T097 was born in 1980, so a while he is a bit younger than T093, he is still up there in age! It is believed that when both of these males lost their moms they formed a bromance and have since travelled together like a family.
After spending some time with the boys, we made our way to Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. This is home to many species, including Steller and Californian Sea Lions, Harbour Seals, Northern Elephant Seals, and Ollie the Sea Otter.
It was here that we got to see some Bald Eagles basking in the sunlight!
After getting to see all the aforementioned, it was time to head back to the cruise ship terminal!
We set off from Ogden Point in Victoria Harbour heading west down the Juan de Fuca Strait.
We cruised along the coast at a steady pace passing Metchosin, Albert Head Penetiary, and eventually Sooke. Along the way, we several pairs Pigeon Guillemots cruising along and eventually diving down under the surface.
Despite having many experienced eyes on the water watching in our area we were not able to spot any whales. After communicating to several other boats on the water, we came to terms that there were no whale sightings in the area this evening.
We decided to turn the boat around and head for Race Rocks Ecological Marine Reserve to check out some local Seals and Sea Lions inhabitants.
With limited light remaining, we were able to spot several California Sea Lions hauled out and sharking. Sharking is a behaviour where California Sea Lions hold up their triangular fins to warm up in the sun. Due to the lack of blubber in their fins and rapid loss of heat in the ocean, while swimming in cold water, California Sea Lions often need to warm up their fins when they are hauled out after a long day of foraging. This behaviour is called sharking due to the fact that their triangular flippers resemble the shape of a shark fin.
Our resident Sea Otter “Ollie” was hanging out in his favourite spot – the kelp beds. To avoid fighting the tidal currents, Ollie tangles himself in the kelp and waits out the strong current. Once the current flow dies down, he will untangle himself and continue foraging for food and preening his dense coat!
On the way back to the harbour we were able to catch a lovely sunset! Even though we were not able to spot any whales today, it turned out to be a great evening on the water!