Written by: Lori, Naturalist – The week of September 20th, 2021
What an incredible week it has been here at Orca Spirit Adventures! The wildlife encounters have been nothing short of incredible. It has been a week filled with amazing experiences with some of our favourite transient killer whale families, multiple humpback whales, and a wide variety of pinnipeds and marine birds. The diversity of life here in the Salish Sea never fails to astound us.
We have spent time with several transient killer whale families this week, most notably the T018’s, T069’s, and T060’s! We were fortunate to find the T060’s leaving Sooke Harbour. The T060’s that we spent time with were Onca (T060D) and Lynx (T060E). They are two brothers belonging to the Transient killer whale ecotype, meaning that they prey primarily on Harbour seals, Harbour porpoises, Steller and California sea lions, and sometimes even other whales. Onca and Lynx are often seen travelling separately from their mother Pantera (T60). It is unusual to see young male killer whales separate from their families – but these two have been off on their own for some time now!
No week would be complete without at least one humpback whale sighting, and we were fortunate to find multiple humpback whales while out on our tours. The humpback whales we saw this week were extremely active, and we were able to observe a number of different behaviours including kelping, lunge feeding, pectoral slaps, and even breaching! Our crew was just as happy as our guests to witness several humpback whale breaches. Nothing puts a humpback whale’s size in perspective quite like seeing their entire bodies clear the surface of the water. It is a humbling and awe-inspiring sight to behold.
We have had some flat calm seas this week, which has led to some fantastic viewing opportunities. One animal that made an appearance this week that we don’t always get to see is the Harbour porpoise! They are the smallest cetacean in BC waters, only weighing about 130Ibs. We are mostly unable to spot them unless the surface of the water is flat calm. With our fantastic luck, we were able to see several travelling along the shoreline. We often find them in small groups of between 2-5 individuals foraging for small fish and squid.
After such an incredible week, we can’t wait to see what the rest of September will bring to us! We never know what animals we’ll find when we leave the harbour, and the thrill of a new day keeps us coming back out for more!