Written by: Lori, Lead Naturalist
The week of May 23rd
What a wonderful week of whale watching it has been here at Orca Spirit Adventures! This week we were able to see a lone male Orca, a coordinated hunt, and pay a visit to Race Rocks Lighthouse!
This week we were fortunate to see the lone male orca known as T049C! T049C is a Bigg’s killer whale that is often seen traveling alone, and occasionally meets up with other groups of Bigg’s killer whales. His mother is no longer alive, but T049C does have two sisters who have started huge families of their own. It was a flat calm day in the Juan de Fuca strait, and it was impressive to see T049C break the surface of the water with his tall dorsal fin. We could hear his strong exhales as he travelled within the Juan de Fuca strait, complete with the beautiful backdrop of the Olympic Mountains.
We were also fortunate to witness the Bigg’s Killer Whales, the T023’s make a kill this week! As the sun was beginning to set on our evening tour, we headed out East in the Catalina Adventure. It wasn’t long before we were able to spot several Orca’s all diving back and forth over a particular spot in the water. It became apparent that they were in the process of hunting as they spyhopped, tail lobbed, and splashed as a group. Bigg’s killer whales prey upon many different marine mammals including Harbour seals, Harbour porpoise, Dall’s porpoise, Steller Sea Lions, California Sea lions, Minke whales, Grey whales, and even Humpback Whale calves! They have quite a varied diet and are impressive predators. It was a powerful moment to see these animals coordinate a hunt and successfully make a kill.
On several of our trips this week we made sure to stop at Race Rocks Lighthouse! This is a marine ecological reserve and an area where we can always count on finding a wide diversity of marine life. This week we spotted well up to 50 Harbour seals, as well as California sea lions, and our favourite little sea otter, Ollie! We can find Steller sea lions and California sea lions at Race Rocks for about 10 months out of the year. By the end of May, they start heading either North or South to the rookeries to mate. At this time of year, only a few California sea lions remain, and it is a pleasure to catch a glimpse of the last remaining males before they really begin to return in July and August!
It has been an incredible week of wildlife viewing. We can hardly wait to see what adventures await us next week. Experience the wild with us by booking a covered vessel tour, departing daily from our Coast location at 10:00 and 2:00!