Captain’s Blog

Victoria Whale Watching Report: Killer Whales (T18 Family!), T’Luk, and Much More!

September 26, 2020

Saturday, September 26th, 2020 – 12pm Covered Vessel Tour

Today was set to be a special day as guests joined us on the Pacific Explorer and we set out west on the Juan de Fuca Strait. Some trips we need to go far to find whales, other days they are close to Victoria. Well today was one of the close days! We were only on the water for about 20 minutes when we seen three black fins belonging to the T18 family of Bigg’s (Transient) Killer Whales! T19B is the oldest son in the family and his fin is so big, it leans over to the left. He was swimming close to his grandmother Esperanza (T18) and his mother Mooyah (T19). We looked all over for 19-year-old Spouter (T19C), but he was not there…..he was several hundred meters away with the T46B family!!

The T46B family is another famous mammal-hunting orca family that frequently visits the Salish Sea. They are famous because they are a huge family with 8 family members! It is not uncommon to see multiple Bigg’s families together. They love to meet up to socialize, mate, hunt and travel together. It looked like Spouter (T19C) was testing out his luck with the ladies of the T046B family!

The whales were spread out in small groups and appeared to be searching for Harbour Seals or porpoises. We recognized Akela (T46B2) right away by the large nick in her dorsal fin. Then we saw him- our little ‘ghost’ whale- Tl’uk! Tl’uk (T46B1A) is well known around the world because he is not black and white, but more grey and white. His rostrum (front of his face) is almost black though, so he has an ombre kind of look to his head. Tl’uk was born in 2018 and he has one of two genetic conditions. His light colouring may be due to a condition called leucism which causes a lack of pigment in some cells and is not life-threatening. Or he may have Chediak-Higashi Syndrome which is an auto-immune disorder. Individuals of any species with this disorder often die before the age of five. He hope he has leucism so that he grows up to be healthy and strong.

We had some truly spectacular views today with double rainbows across the water and the whales in them! What could be more magical than whales in rainbows?! It made for some amazing shots that you can see in our Flickr album for this trip! We also captured one of the T46B whales leap out of the water in a perfect arch. It was such a unique and special day!

We capped off our tour with a visit to Race Rocks Lighthouse where a record number of California and Steller Sea Lions were all over the islands! We have not seen this many sea lions here in about five years! It was a sea lion-palooza out there! With lots of sea lions comes lots of smells- and not so good ones! They were entertaining



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