Victoria Whale Watching Report: Humpback Whales, Sea Lions & Ollie The Sea Otter!
October 10, 2019
While on our way out of the harbor this afternoon, we spotted an Ocean Clean Up vessel collecting debris. It is quite amusing watching how they complete these big debris removals. This also provided a great conversation towards the need for changes in our ecosystems.
While traveling south, we spotted blows of a humpback not too far away.
We were able to watch this whale breathe and dive for quite a while. With every dive, it would bring its fluke gracefully out of the water. Humpbacks do this to help propel their bodies on a deeper dive to feed.
When they bring the fluke out of the water we can identify the whales by getting a photograph of the bottom of their fluke. The number of humpbacks has increased from 7 in 2003, to 266 last summer. This year we have had even more additions enter the Salish Sea. With this, we can take part in research by sending new identifications to the research teams.
After spending some time with this gracious humpback, we headed west towards Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. Slowly adventuring through the rocky islets, we viewed seals, sea lions, and Ollie the sea otter.
We only have one sea otter in our area due to an extirpation after the fur trade. They were a common pelt to have, especially among sailors as their fur is what keeps them warm instead of a fat layer. In one square inch of fur on their body, they have one million hair follicles. They are constantly preening and fluffing their fur, as this is what helps them float. Ollie also plays an important role in the ecosystem at Race Rocks. He eats a lot of sea urchins, which allows the bull kelp forest to thrive.
Once we scoured Race Rocks, enjoying the wildlife and historic lighthouse, we headed back east to Victoria. Along the way, we traveled the shoreline home. The rocky outlets along with the coast drop right off, reaching depths of 200-400 ft right offshore. This gave us a great opportunity to travel close to shore and take in the lush scenery of Vancouver Island before we headed into port.