Victoria Whale Watching Report: Mouflon Sheep, A Minke Whale and a Daring Bald Eagle!
October 11, 2019
We were enjoying the blue skies and sunshine this morning as we moved east of Victoria into Haro Strait. We then turned north to check out who might be swimming amongst the Gulf and San Juan Islands.
We made a quick stop at Mandarte Island to see the bird sanctuary where cormorants build their nests on the sheer cliff surface.
We continued on towards Speiden Island which is a privately owned island of the San Juan Island Chain in Washington State. The island was developed into a big game hunting reserve in the 1970s and 1980s, but the venture was short-lived due to concerns over bullets being fired towards other islands that are more densely inhabited and because of environmental concerns.
Species from around the world were brought to the island for the big game reserve including Mouflon Sheep from Corsica, Sika Deer from Asia, and Fallow Deer from Europe. They also brought over 2000 different bird species to the island. We were able to see many of the Mouflon Sheep and Fallow Deer on this morning’s tour.
On the tip of Spieden Island called Green Point, we found about a dozen giant Steller Sea Lions, who all seemed to be scratching an itch!
These big boys reach 2500 pounds and are prevalent in the area for about 10 months of the year. A little further ahead is where the whale watching started! We spotted the very curved dorsal fin of a minke whale!
Minke whales are often hard to track and can do very long dives, but we got to experience seeing this minke many times! He or she was foraging on bait balls in a shallow area between two islands. Even the birds were enjoying the bounty and made it easy to guess whee the minke would come up next!
While watching for the minke to blast through the surface at the bait ball, a huge Bald Eagle dove down and grabbed fish out of the water with its powerful talons!
It was amazing to see the eagle maneuver over the water and then into the sky!
He or she really made the seagulls look small when they were flying side-by-side! It was an amazing tour with animals from the land, sea, and sky impressing us with their size, skill, and presence.