Victoria Whale Watching Report: Stitch the Humpback Whale & Race Rocks Ecological Reserve!
September 30, 2019
This afternoon our group set off on the Catalina Adventure in hopes of finding some of the giants of the Salish Sea. The Salish Sea is a name that we use for the body of water around the south end of Vancouver Island and is where we spend all of our trips. The term Salish comes from the Coast Salish first nations peoples, the traditional groups that populated Vancouver Island and Washington State.
During this trip, we came across a whale well known to Orca Spirit. This was a Humpback Whale named Stitch. Stitch is known to be a whale who is a bit more curious about boats and today she proved that to be true. Stitch spent well over twenty minutes interacting with the boat, floating just under the surface alongside the boat. Guests today were able to inhale her exhale. This time of year is when we start to see some different behaviors from our Humpback Whales; the reason for the behavior change is thought to be that they are starting to make their journeys to the mating and calving grounds.
When Humpback Whales are in the cold Canadian waters, they tend to be less active because they are focused on hunting and gaining weight for their winter in the warm waters of Mexico, Hawaii or Costa Rica. While these whales are in the warm waters is when they are most active, including frequent breaching, tail slapping, and pec slapping. These behaviors are less seen in the Salish Sea because of the demand to gain weight for the winter.
After our incredible visit with Stitch, we went to an area known as Race Rocks Ecological Reserve where we got to visit with three species of Pinnipeds. Here we saw Steller Sea Lions, Californian Sea Lions, and Harbour Seals. Both varieties of sea lions migrate as the humpbacks do, but to different locations and at different times of the year.
The Stellers go north to Alaska, and the Californians go down to California in the late spring and early Summer to go and mate. They are very animated creatures when they are hauled out on the rocks at Race Rocks making for an exciting end to a fantastic trip.