Victoria Whale Watching Report: Family of Bigg’s/Transient Killer Whales
July 28, 2019
This morning we headed out into the Juan De Fuca Strait, with wonderfully calm waters and decided to head South towards Washington.
After a bit of travelling, we stopped in an area that has recently been popular for Humpback Whales. We stayed for a short time to try and spot some blows, but were not able to see any. However, we were able to see some Harbour Porpoise! They move very quickly and don’t tend to linger around boats, so we typically don’t see them more than a couple times.
We then met up with some other boats that were with a group of Transient Killer Whales! While we were looking to see where they would pop up next, we got quite the surprise as they surfaced right beside us! This ecotype of killer whales eats marine mammals and we even saw them hunting a Harbour Porpoise while we were with them. We eventually identified these individuals as the T65As!
The matriarch here was born in 1986 and she was with four of her offspring. Her oldest son, however, was not with the group today so we were thrown off at first. We use their dorsal fins and saddle patches to identify individuals! There were quite a few boats around so after spending some time with these animals, we went off to look for the Humpback Whales again!
This time we were successful, getting to see two Humpback Whales together! Although we did not have much time to spend with them, we were still able to get some great looks at these beautiful animals. One of them was identified as “Victory”, but we were unable to get an identification shot for the second. The way we identify individual humpbacks is different than the killer whales because we use the underside of their tails. Each one varies with the amount of white pigmentation, as well as different patterns and shapes!
It was then time to head back to a lovely sunny day in Victoria!
It was beautiful, sunny and wind-free this afternoon which made for a great trip out to look for the whales of the Salish Sea! Captain Jordan had gotten a report of a family of Biggs Killer Whales out in the San Juan islands so off we went!
We came on scene with a family of killer whales that is very local to the Salish Sea. They are known as the T065As. This family typically is made up of 6 whales, but T065As oldest male wasn’t travelling with the family today. This means we got to spend the afternoon with 5 whales. Mom, T065A, aka Fingers was born in 1986, her second-oldest, T065A3 (Amira), was born in 2007, her third-oldest, T065A4 (Ellifrit), was born in 2011, her fourth-oldest, T065A5 (Elsie), was born in 2014, and her most recent, T065A6, was born in 2018. This type of family travels in Matrilines, meaning that they are based around mom, and mom is in charge. Moms in killer whale families call the shots, they tell their kids when to eat, how to eat, and what to eat.
On our way back to the marina we stopped at a special place called Chain Islands. This island group mostly comes and goes with the tide as it is mostly made out of rocks. Here we got to see Harbour Seals sunning their bellies, cormorants drying their wings, and fuzzy Gull babies bouncing around.
We are just coming out of pupping season for the Harbour Seals so many mom seals were accompanied by their fuzzy babies.
Passing Ogden point brought our trip to an end, but we left the boat with memories of whales in the wild we would not soon forget.