Captain’s Blog

Victoria Whale Watching Report: Orcas, Humpbacks, Seals, and Sea Lions!

August 29, 2020

Saturday, August 29th, 2020 – 12pm Covered Vessel Tour

The entire month of August has been amazing for whale watching on the Straits surrounding south Vancouver Island! Today added to the greatness streak as we were in for a “Double Creature Feature” day. Guests boarded the Pacific Explorer and we headed out onto the Juan de Fuca Strait, aiming west. We cruised past Sooke and came upon a beloved duo of Bigg’s (mammal-hunting) Orcas known as Esperanza (T10) and her son (T10C)!

Killer Whales are known for their close family bonds, with mother and son relationships lasting for life. It is estimated that Esperanza was born around 1964 and Bones was born in 1999. Female killer whales go through menopause in their early forties, so Esperanza will not be having any more offspring. Bones is now a mature male at the age of 21, so he may contribute to the Bigg’s Orca gene pool soon! Mammal-hunting orcas will meet up with other family groups and hunt together, socialize, and mate. It was very special to see these two who are easy to ID because of the large nick in Esperanza’s dorsal fin.

We received a report that a Humpback was also spotted nearby, so we left the Orcas to continue their journey west. It was only a few minutes before we met up with the majestic Humpback Whale who was also making good time in a westerly direction. Humpbacks are baleen whales, therefore they do not have teeth. They eat approximately 1 tonne of food each day in the form of krill, herring, sand lance, anchovies, or sardines. They are bulking up for the long journey to warm, southern waters of Mexico, Hawaii, or Costa Rica. At least the whales get to travel internationally this year!

We topped the tour off with a visit at Race Rocks Lighthouse. The lighthouse itself has been standing guard since 1860. Its granite construction has stood the test of time against strong westerly winds and powerful winter storms. Steller and California Sea Lions were a treat to watch as all the big boys were out today below the lighthouse. We also got to see the Harbour Seals soaking up the sun on Helicopter Rock. We even caught one shamelessly peeing in front of us all! Oops! No wonder it smells a bit ripe when we cruise through these islands! In the end, it was a perfect day on the water with some of our favourite marine mammals!

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