Victoria Whale Watching Report: T101 Family of Bigg’s Killer Whales!
April 25, 2021
Sunday, April 25th- 12pm Tour
It was an exciting day to be on the water with guests and crew anxious to see whales and other fascinating wildlife. We boarded the Haisla Explorer and set out west of Victoria. West of Race Rocks Lighthouse, we spotted the tall fins of 2 males and one female killer whale heading in our direction! As they passed by, we were able to get ID’s for each of the whales. It became evident that we were with the T101 family.
The T101 family belongs to the Transient or Bigg’s Killer Whale eco-type and feed exclusively on marine mammals. Killer whales operate under a matriarch system, so Reef (T101) heads the family and is mother to 28-year-old Rush and 24-year-old Lagoon. These two brothers have very tall, straight dorsal fins, but neither have any nicks in their fins, which is quite common among the mammal0hunting killer whales.
As the T101 family was cruising along closer to shore, we spotted another little family of Bigg’s orcas to the south. It was Freya (T100B) and her offspring T100B1, who does not yet have a common name. Eventually the two groups met up as we passed Race Rocks, heading east. We followed along as the two families appeared to be searching the shoreline for prey like seals or sea lions.
After a fantastic visit with the orcas, we made our way back to Race Rocks Lighthouse where huge male Steller Sea Lions and even a few dark-brown California Sea Lions were basking in the sun along the different islands. Some were roaring at each other, others were content to snooze, and some were swimming in the rushing waters around the islands.
Closer to the house up on the main island, we spotted three Elephant Seals! Elephant Seals are the largest species of seal in North America, which the males able to tip the scale at 6,000 pounds! They give birth in January at Race Rocks, which is the farthest northern location that Elephant Seals in the Pacific deliver their pups. We were excited to spot what looked like a pup near the fence line below the lighthouse.
To cap off an already amazing visit, we spotted Ollie the Sea Otter napping in one of the surrounding kelp beds. Ollie was holding on to a pile of Bull Kelp fronds to keep him in place as he snoozed the afternoon away. Sea Otters stay warm in the chilly north Pacific waters by having a pelt of thick fur. They have an average of 1 million hairs per square inch of their body! This dense fur is needed because Sea Otters are the only marine mammals without blubber to keep them warm. We left Ollie to continue his siesta as we cruised back to Victoria on calm seas and stunning local views of the city.