Written by Lori, Naturalist – The week of September 27th
September has come to an end and as we usher in the month of October it is nice to take a moment to reflect on the incredible wildlife encounters we have experienced this past week. Each day that we enter into the Salish Sea we are astounded by the diversity of wildlife that abounds just outside of our home in Victoria.
The Juan de Fuca Strait has been the perfect place to find Humpback whales this week, and we have been fortunate to have many encounters with these incredible animals. Humpback whales are often called the “gentle giants” of our oceans, because they are one of the largest animals on our planet, but they feed off some of our world’s smallest creatures. The diet of the humpback whale consists primarily of herring and krill, which they trap behind their large baleen plates when they take in large mouthfuls of water and prey.
We were incredibly fortunate this week to witness a humpback whale lunge feeding! A large congregation of seabirds on the surface of the water indicated to us that we were in an area with a lot of small schooling fish, and as we know, birds like to gather where the food is! We were astounded to see a large humpback whale lunge through the surface of the water with it’s mouth wide open. Lunge feeding is a feeding technique that humpback whales use to engulf entire patches of krill and small schooling fish. It is humbling to observe as you truly get a feeling for just how large these animals are.
Heading over to Race Rocks Ecological Reserve we managed to spot a very familiar furry face hidden amongst the bull kelp. It was Ollie! Ollie is our resident sea otter that we can occasionally spot on our tours. Sea Otters are not very common in the waters surrounding Victoria, so he is a real treat for our guests and crew to see. Sea otters boast the densest fur coat of any animal in the animal kingdom! They have approximately 1,000,000 hairs per square inch of skin. Unlike other marine mammals, sea otters don’t have blubber, and Ollie depends on his thick fur to stay warm.
The end of September has been incredible for wildlife-viewing, and we can’t wait for our next opportunity to get out on the water! Each tour is completely unique, and we never know just what we’ll see when we leave the harbour. Fortunately, we’re always pleasantly surprised!