Written by: Lori, Lead Naturalist
The Week of April 11th, 2022.
With the off-season coming to an end, we could not have been more excited to head out into the Salish Sea for our very first covered vessel tours of the year! We certainly missed the wildlife, and it was a very special treat to be able to see some of our favourite marine mammals again. This week we were able to spend time with Bigg’s killer whales, Grey whales, Steller sea lions, California sea lions, Harbour seals, and even a hauled-out Ollie!
It was Grey whales galore this week with several Grey whales spotted just off the coast of Victoria! Grey whales are typically found within a few kilometers of the shoreline, and are unlike other baleen whales in that they are primarily bottom feeders. They feed on benthic and epibenthic invertebrates like sand-hoppers, worms, and ghost shrimp. We generally find them alone or in groups of two to three – and we were fortunate this week to find several feeding in the same area!
We were also fortunate to spend a great deal of time with the T065A’s, who are frequently seen traveling with other matrilines of Bigg’s Killer Whales. We have seen lots of surface activity this week, and have observed tail lobs, spyhops, and inverted pectoral slaps from one of our favourite Killer Whale families! It is incredible to see these animals travel and interact with one another.
Later on in the week, we paid a visit to Race Rocks Lighthouse – an area with exceptional ecological diversity. We were able to see Steller sea lions, California sea lions, and even Harbour seals hauled out on the rocks. We were even fortunate enough to spot our resident sea otter – Ollie – hauled out on land! Sea otters mate, sleep, groom, forage, give birth, rest, and play in the ocean, so it is a rare treat to find them hauled out. On another trip this week we observed Ollie using a rock to break open a shell. Sea otters are one of the few animals that are known to use tools. Our guests and crew alike were delighted to not only be able to see him using a rock as a tool – but to be able to hear it as well.
The diversity of animals in the Salish sea never fails to delight us. We are off to a wonderful start this season – and we can’t wait to see what awaits us next week. With so many unique wildlife encounters on each trip, we hope you will be inspired to experience the wild with us at Orca Spirit Adventures.