Victoria Whale Watching Report: Orcas & Humpback Whales
July 5, 2019
Today we headed West along our Canadian coastline. We found an array of humpback whales south of Race Rocks. We soon identified one whale as a young whale named Vallant. Vallant was born in 2017 and has very distinguishable markings on its tail. This whale has extreme rake marks, most likely from a Biggs orca attack, along with gashes taken from the trailing edge.
We watched the two humpbacks forage for their lunch. The other humpback that was along side was not identified, but most likely not its mother.
Humpbacks have somewhat loose social structures compared to other whales; youngsters separate from their mothers after two years and don’t usually interact with them much after that. In our waters we see feeding pairs of humpbacks that work together to help each other hunt by pushing the target pray together tightly.
What a great day to witness this hunting techniques!
The cloud above us this afternoon did not deter our determination in finding whales! We made our way south and east until we were just off an area called Dungeness Spit on the Washington peninsula. A few other whale watching boats could be seen, a good sign there should be dorsal fins popping up close by.
All at once we saw 6 black triangles break the surface of the water! A large family was travelling in a tight-knit formation, possibly resting after filling their bellies with seals or porpoises. We watched as two youngsters popped up and down, always within touching distance of Mom and older siblings.
Chatter over the radio let us know that T77A was even closer to the shoreline to the south and another Bigg’s orca family was ahead of us. We eventually moved over to the second family where a well-known female named T37 was in the mix. She has a very straight dorsal fin which is not common for females who usually have a curved dorsal fin.
They started to move north as we turned to start back towards Victoria. Just when we thought the excitement was over, a humpback surprised us by surfacing in the distance!
We stopped to see the humpback surface a few times before we had to leave the scene. We call days like today a “Double Creature Feature!”
The skies partially cleared this evening, making for a perfect evening to watch whales and enjoy a beautiful sunset! With guests excited to get out on the water, we entered the Salish Sea and started to see our first wildlife at Race Rocks Lighthouse. To our surprise, the very first Steller Sea Lion was back from mating! Normally we do not see the males return to their bachelor pad until the end of July. Maybe this big lug was not so successful at charming the ladies?! We also spotted adorable Harbour Seals hauled out on the rocks, enjoying the warmth of the air as the waters are really chilly here.
We soon headed south towards the Olympic Penninsula of Washington where we started to spot spouts of mist in the distance. We soon had two humpbacks around us, one of each side of the vessel. They were doing short dives and little flukes, a sign they were not going down deep to gulp up their food. We eventually got a tail shot and were excited to report that Mathematician (BCY0785) was on scene! We do not know if this humpback is male or female, but he or she has been spotted on many occasions in the past two weeks!
Then we figured out who the second smaller humpback was- a whale we have nicknamed “Pong” as it does not have an official common name yet. This whale has a black line and a dot on its left side in the white pigment area, which reminds us of that old video game called Pong. They circled and flipped directions continuously! As we watched these two gorge themselves, we could see at least three more humpbacks in all directions- it was humpback wonderland- or shall we say wondersea out there!
We finally crept our way out of the area and admired all our great photos on the ride back to Victoria. Guests and crew were all excited by the wonderful sights and sounds of humpbacks that we got to experience this evening!