Victoria Whale Watching Report: T60 Killer Whale Family!
September 9, 2020
Wednesday, September 9th, 2020 – 12pm Covered Vessel Tour
It was another sunny day in Victoria and we had another group of guests excited to adventure onto the Salish Sea to look for marine wildlife. Today we had reports of two young male orcas in the area, searching for seals close to the shoreline just west of the city. We cruised onto the Juan de Fuca Strait, heading west to see if we could locate the young brothers. Not far from Race Rocks Lighthouse, we spotted the black fins of the boys, sculking in and out of the kelp beds!
The two orcas belong to the Bigg’s Killer Whale ecotype, meaning that they are mammal-hunters. They belong to the T60 family but are often seen traveling separately from their mother, Pantera (T60), and their brothers Yelnats (T60C) and Tigris (T60F). It is rare for younger whales to separate from their family, but Onca (T60D) and Lynx (T60E) are rebels, exploring the Pacific Northwest on their own. Onca was born in 2004 and Lynx was born in 2008. Lynx has a nick in his dorsal fin near the top, making them easy to identify. Onca’s dorsal fin is getting taller and straighter as he is in the throes of puberty. Lynx has a couple more years to go before we start to see his dorsal fin sprout.
Bigg’s or Transient Killer Whales prey on mammals like the Harbour Seals, California and Steller Sea Lions, porpoises, dolphins, and occasionally other whales. These brothers are not strong enough to take down large prey, so Harbour Seals are on the menu most days. Today they were trying their luck at searching through the giant Bull Kelp beds that line the shores. Hunting is a stealthy operation so that their prey hopefully does not hear or see them until it is too late.
We left the brothers to go see if we could locate Humpbacks that had been reported earlier in the day. We only moved several hundred meters before we saw the tall blows of not one, but three Humpback Whales! Humpbacks are huge whales, feasting on krill and small fish in our local waters from spring until late fall. Between November and January, they will start their journey south to warmer waters where they mate and give birth. We were so excited to have the opportunity to see two species in one trip- something we like to call a ‘Double Creature Feature’! Another great day was in the logbook.