Victoria Whale Watching Report: 3 Humpback Whales & Race Rocks Ecological Reserve
October 15, 2019
Guests and crew were eager to start our whale watching adventure this morning as we boarded the Orca Spirit and entered the Juan de Fuca Strait. We started our search for puffy, white blows, fins and splashes by heading south and west towards the Olympic Pennisula of Washington.
We moved west of Race Rocks Lighthouse where a humpback surfacing caught our attention!
This giant of the sea appeared to be foraging because it was swimming fast and switching directions as it dove into the deep. It had an all-black tail when it fluked, with a few white rings from old barnacles.
After about ten minutes of silence at the surface, we spotted two blows towards the lighthouse! We started to move towards the blows and were surprised by humpbacks surfacing on the way. We realized we had three humpback whales in close range! The group of two was a mother and her calf. Mom had two white patches on the underside of her tail and the calf’s flukes were almost all white. The colour pattern on the underside of the tail is what we use to identify humpbacks as individuals.
It is always special to see the interactions between a mother and her calf. They mimic their mothers, surfacing side-by-side and fluking one after the other. Humpback babies are born in the winter months between December and February. Calving grounds are in the warm waters of Mexico, Hawaii and Costa Rica for the North Pacific population.
They will soon head south again to mate and give birth to next year’s young. Calves are under the watchful eye of their mothers for just one year. This little one only has a few more months before it takes on the world alone! But humpbacks are social animals, so a friend is never far!
As we were so close to Race Rocks Lighthouse, we headed over to the collection of rocky islets to check out the California and Steller Sea Lions. With growls, roars and barks filling the air, we enjoyed the sights but not so much the smell of these giant pinnipeds.
Their smaller cousins, the Harbour Seals, occupied the lower shorelines of the islands, keeping out of the way of the aggressive big boys. Time was running out for our adventure, so we said farewell to the wildlife and motored on in to the Victoria Harbour.