Victoria Whale Watching Report: Marine Birds, Seals & Sea Lions
May 4, 2019
This sunny morning our small but mighty group boarded the Orca Spirit and headed out of the inner harbour into the Strait of Juan de Fuca!
Our trip east, past Oak Bay golf course, and Oak Bay hotel into the Chain islands was shaping up to be great, with near perfect conditions.
Once we got to the Chain Islands, a group of 17 islands, who appear and disappear with the tide we got to see some pretty neat wildlife right out of Victoria. Here we saw flocks of Cormorants, both the Pelagic and Double Crested variety, dozens of Harbour Seals (AKA Fuzzy Rock Sausages), and 3 Oyster Catchers (one of your naturalists were very excited about these).
As we continued our cruise, we passed Discovery Island, the island where there is one lone male Sea Wolf. This wolf, while likely very lonely has seemed to thrive and maintain a healthy diet of harbour seals.
From there we crossed over to San Juan Island, where we sat for a few minutes, scanning searching for the whales. San Juan Island is part of Washington and therefore part of the USA.
Before heading back to the inner Harbour our captain chose to take us to Mandarte Island, the one covered in all the bird poop. This is where we saw hundreds of Cormorants, similar to earlier, but this time, they were seemingly clinging to the steep rock face.
As we were running back to the harbour, we by chance came across quite the spectacle! A large amount of Harbour Porpoise, slowly rolling along all sides of the boats, some close, and some far! These small grey dolphin relatives were identifiable by the small triangle fin that would roll out of the water ever so gracefully.
It was a lovely morning, with a great group of guests! We look forward to seeing you all in Victoria again soon!
After boarding the Orca Spirit, our group of 27 headed east towards the San Juan Islands. These Islands are part of Washington and belong to the USA. We journeyed far and wide, getting to see the sandy shore of the southernmost point of San Juan Island.
On our way to Race Rocks Lighthouse and Ecological Reserve, we came across a large number of small grey triangles rolling through the water! These were our famous Harbour Porpoise, 1 of 2 types we have in the Salish Sea, and 1 of the 7 species of porpoise worldwide!
When we arrived at Race Rocks Lighthouse, we got to see Ollie, our one and only sea otter! He was swimming and preening amongst the bull kelp! At one point he was even tying himself into the kelp, likely preparing to take a nap!
Also in and amongst Race Rocks were the loud, and humorous sea lions! While both Steller and California Sea Lions were present, you could really hear the Californians barking at each other in their funny way.
It was a great afternoon of sunshine, incredible wildlife, and infectious giggles!