Victoria Whale Watching Report: Transient Killer Whales, Harbour Porpoise & Humpback Whales
June 30, 2019
Today was glass flat water as we headed out of the Harbour to the West.
We soon ran into a massive group of harbour porpoises! Not much is known about their social structure as a group though they do prefer to travel in small pods of 4 – 5 porpoises and rarely intermingle with other marine species. Today was amazing because we got to witness 40-60 individuals all foraging in the tideline. We also witnessed some breeching behaviour that is rare for this species!
Most hunting occurs near or at the bottom of the water in shallow waters. In larger deeper waters they can be observed hunting fish at mid-level. During extended hunts, these marine mammals have been observed staying submerged for up to 5 minutes before resurfacing for air and making dives of up to 720 ft. deep.
We continued West and observed what Race Rocks marine protected area had to offer in the form of seals and Ollie, our resident sea otter. We then got lucky with tall blows in the distance.
It was two humpback whales! These whales create this spout because of the air that it is releasing via the blowhole. Due to the massive temperature differences, a condensation effect occurs, causing the air being breathed out to turn to water vapour. We watched these gentle giants for some time before we got another sighting that Biggs orcas were also in the area!
What a great day out on the water!
This afternoon we were lucky with both weather and wildlife!
Right as we left the harbour there was a pod of Transient Killer Whales! This pod was identified as the T37A family. We are able to identify individuals by looking at their dorsal fins and saddle patches. This combination is entirely unique, just like a fingerprint! After observing them swimming along Ogden Point, we headed South to find some more wildlife.
As we were travelling to our next location, we were able to see some Harbour Porpoises come up a few times beside the boat. They are common to our area, but they tend to be fairly shy and disappear quickly!
After a short time, we arrived with a Humpback Whale! All around our boat there were several of these whales in different spots, with a beautiful backdrop of the Olympic Mountains. We identified two of them as “Divot” (BCX1057) and “Hemlock” (MMY0080). For Humpbacks, we use the underside of their flukes to identify individuals. Throughout our time with these whales, we were able to hear them breathe and saw them show their flukes multiple times. We spent some time with the Humpbacks and then left them to go and find some of our Pinniped species.
Along our way to Race Rocks this afternoon, we had some surprise guests come aboard from another boat that requested some help. The more the merrier! We continued our tour to Race Rocks and were able to see an Elephant Seal and several Harbour Seals on the rocks. This area has been an ecological reserve since 1980 due to its rich intertidal and subtidal communities. It is also home to the second oldest lighthouse in the Canadian Pacific, built in 1860.
After an incredible jam-packed tour, we then made our way back to the dock.
View more fantastic tour photos on our Flickr page.