Victoria Whale Watching Report: Humpbacks, California Sea Lions, and More!
August 1, 2020
Saturday, August 1st – 12pm Covered Vessel Tour
The first of August was a perfect day to be out on the water with sunshine and clear skies all around! We hugged the shoreline as we started out west, searching for any signs of whales. Vancouver Island is a rugged landscape, with gorgeous temperate rainforests and steep cliffs bordering the Juan de Fuca Strait.
Initial reports of humpbacks sightings came from far out west near Jordan River, but thankfully we did not need to make the long trek out there because a humpback was found around Race Rocks Lighthouse. Working as a team with two other whale watching vessels, we eventually spotted the tell-tale blow of Megaptera novaeangliae- the humpback whale! Humpback whales are magnificent creatures and the largest of the whales most commonly seen in our area. This one seemed to be a younger whale judging by its size. Humpback calves only spend one year with their mother, so we often see 1.5-year-old whales alone in the area from spring until late fall. We did catch a photo of the underside of its tail, so we can use this for ID and will be sending to researchers and government departments in both Canada and the US to aid in humpback studies and tracking.
We headed over to Race Rocks Lighthouse where we were excited to see the first California Sea Lions who have returned to the area since they left for the mating season at the end of May! We also got some great photos of the giant Steller Sea Lions, some basking on the sunshine, while others wrestled in the water. Harbour Seals were resting on several of the islands, their speckled, silver fur blending in so well with the rocks they were lying on!
We decided to head a little further southwest to see if any other critters were cruising the Strait. We did find another humpback that had white patches on its flukes. It was a bit choppy out there, so we stayed a bit longer to see a few more surfacings before making the trek back to Victoria. We made sure to send in Whale Reports via our Oceanwise App so that they could alert all large vessels of the two whales’ locations. The ships are supposed to voluntarily slow down and alter course if necessary, to avoid a ship strike. We strive to contribute to research, provide education, and assist with protection efforts while on the water with these gentle giants!