Written by: Lori, Lead Naturalist
The week of May 30th
Another wonderful week on the water has come and gone. We have been fortunate to have experienced some incredible weather this week, with flat calm seas and sunny skies as far as the eye can see! It is with this backdrop that we have been able to view some of our favourite marine mammals including Bigg’s Killer Whales, Humpback Whales, Grey Whales, Harbour Porpoises, and even some Bald Eagles!
Humpback whales were truly the star this week, as we were able to observe several different mother and calf pairings! The mother and calf pairing is the strongest bond that we observe with Humpback whale species. A mother and calf will stay together for nearly 1 year, even though the calves can feed independently at about six months of age. The mother will defend her calf vigorously from any Bigg’s Killer whale attacks that may occur during their long migration from warm to cold waters. There are enough scars on Humpback whales to suggest that mothers are quite successful at protecting their young!
On our way to see the Humpback whales we were fortunate to see many Harbour Porpoises! It can take a keen eye to spot their tiny dorsal fins breaking the surface of the water – but with flat calm seas we were able to spot about 20 Harbour Porpoises! Often we only see them in groups of about 2-5, but if there is enough prey they will congregate in larger groups. They primarily feed upon Herring, Walleye Pollock, Pacific Sandlance, Hake, Anchovy, and Inshore Squid.
Traveling close to small islands gives us an opportunity to look for a variety of different birds of prey. This week we spotted a beautiful adult bald eagle at Spieden Island! It takes about 4 to 5 years for a bald eagle to develop its adult plumage, which is the white head and white tail that they are so well-known for. Our guests always love bald eagles, and it is no surprise to us why! With a 6.5-7.5ft wingspan, they are an impressive bird to spot on our tours. Exploring the shores of Spieden, we were able to see some mouflon sheep, fallow deer, and sika deer. The island once had an era of exotic big game hunting – and these remaining animals can still be seen grazing in the grasslands on this small but unique island.
It has been another wonderful week of whale watching, and we have had so many incredible sightings. Next week will undoubtedly be a week filled with animals like Bigg’s Killer Whales, Humpback whales and Grey Whales. It is true that we never know quite what we’ll see – but the Salish Sea’s abundance never fails to astound us.
We hope you’ll experience the wild with us with one of our whale watching tours that depart daily!