Captain’s Blog

Victoria Whale Watching Report: T065A’s Bigg’s Killer Whales!

August 28, 2020

Friday, August 28th, 2020 – 12pm Covered Vessel Tour

This afternoon, we boarded the Pacific Explorer in search of wildlife in the Juan de Fuca Strait.

Today’s trip took us south towards Port Angeles, with a gorgeous view of the Olympic Mountains ahead. After about an hour of travel, Captain Jordan slowed the boat down as we approached a family of Bigg’s Killer Whales! This was proof of how fast these animals can swim, as they were seen near the shores of Oak Bay just an hour before our boat departed.

Thanks to extremely detailed photo ID guides of these animals, we were able to identify this family as the T065As! Bigg’s Killer Whales travel in family groups consisting of a mother and her offspring. In this case, T065A or “Artemis”, travels with her 5 sons and daughters. She was born in 1986 and her calves range from 2 to 16 years old! Her oldest, “Ooxjaa”, became well known last year as he actually swam into the inner harbour twice in two days. This was after he split up from his family for a while and was travelling solo or with other families. Obviously he has since rejoined them and it was an awesome experience to see them all together again. The youngest was splashing around quite a bit and was clearly very energetic this afternoon! We also saw Artemis spyhop a couple times, which is a behaviour used to check out her surroundings by coming out of the water vertically.

After watching the T065As playing and swimming for a while, we left the area in search of other wildlife. We headed to Discovery Island, where we got a view of a mural painted in honour of Takaya, the lone wolf who inhabited this island for 7 years. In January of this year, he swam back to Vancouver Island and was shot and killed by a hunter after he was relocated. His story touched people all over the world and he will be greatly missed.

On our way back to Victoria, we passed through the Chain Islands to look at the hauled out Harbour Seals on the rocks! These are the main prey for Bigg’s Killer Whales in our area. It was just their pupping season, so we saw seals of all different ages.

We ended our tour back at the dock in beautiful downtown Victoria! What a fabulous afternoon at sea.

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