Victoria Whale Watching Report: Killer Whales, Humpback Whales & Harbour Seals
July 2, 2019
This morning started very rainy in Victoria, something we have not really seen in months. The coast of Vancouver Island is a temperate rain forest so everything was in need of a good drink, from the thirsty forests to the migrating salmon. We headed for the South end of San Juan Island, Washington, home of the Center for Whale Research and Whale Museum!
As we rounded Cattle Point, we spotted fellow whale watching vessels creeping forward as they watched a group of local Bigg’s (Transient) orcas! It was a bit of a long ride over, but killer whales are always well worth the journey! We soon spotted the well-known dorsal fin of T65A2, a 15-year-old male who has a nick at the top of his fin. This young lad still has almost a decade of growing to go, but his dorsal fin is already becoming quite tall and straightening out.
One would normally assume T65A2 would be traveling with his mother and siblings, but after further inspection of our photos, we discovered that he was actually traveling with his grandmother (T65), his auntie (T65B), and his cousins. Earlier in the season, he was seen with his Mom and siblings, but the past few visits with him, he has been with his granny and auntie. We are not sure why he has decided to travel with other family members, but he is sure to cared for by T65 and T65B!
After a great visit with the orcas, we needed to set course for Canada as the whales continued to move North. We were able to get some great shots that you can find on our Flickr page! We hope the excitement of seeing the ocean’s top predators in the wild remains in our guests’ memories for a long time to come!
Another afternoon on the Salish Sea always means another exciting adventure looking for local wildlife! With eager guests aboard and the rain over with, we entered the Juan de Fuca Strait, heading south and west of the Victoria Harbour. With whale watching boats spread out to search all areas of the strait, we scoured the horizon for cloudy puffs coming from the nostrils of creatures of the deep. We also looked for any odd splashing and dark fins breaking the surface of the water.
Our search was not in vain as we soon detected the giants we call humpbacks! Not only did we spot one, but blows could also be seen in virtually every direction! As we watched the largest of the baleen whales that come to our area, we noticed one had several scars in a row just behind its dorsal hump. It was obvious this humpback had at one point been struck by a propeller, but thankfully healed well. With so many humpbacks now along our coastline, all vessels on the water need to practice extra caution when they see whales and travel very slowly.
We were mesmerized by huge tail flukes rising above the surface before sliding back down into the deep. All the humpbacks we were watching only did short dives of a few minutes- a sign that their food must be fairly shallow within the water column.
Humpbacks need to eat over a tonne of food each day so that they can pack on approximately 17 tonnes of fat before starting their migration in November or December. They don’t eat all winter as they spend the mating and calving season in warmer waters of Mexico, Hawaii or Costa Rica.
After an exciting visit with the humpback whales, we cruised over to Race Rocks Lighthouse where we spotted the Harbour Seals with their new pups. Life abounds all over our local waters! With so many humpbacks whales spotted, we were able to snap a lot of really great photos that you must check out on our Flickr page!