Captain’s Blog

Victoria Whale Watching Report: T69 Family of Killer Whales!

August 22, 2020

Saturday, August 22nd, 2020 – 12pm Covered Vessel Tour

Today marked another beautiful summer day on the south coast of Vancouver Island!  Guests were eager to board the Pacific Explorer and head out on the Salish Sea. Reports came in this morning that there were mammal-hunting orcas we call Bigg’s Killer Whales out west, but they were moving further from us so we needed to hurry!  Calm seas aided in our journey to meet two families of orcas!

We were just southwest of Sheringham Lighthouse when we spotted the black dorsal fins of the T69 family. The mother of the group is T69 and she was born around 1974, just before intensive studies of orcas began on our coastline. She is the proud mother of T069C, who is a 25-year-old male and of T069E and T069F.  They were born in 2004 and 2010, respectively. The family as traveling west in a tight formation. We were enjoying seeing them surface and possibly hunting a seal, sea lion, or porpoise when we spotted another group of dorsal fins in front of us!

Soon two families of orcas were together as the T69’s were joined by the T36A family!  When different families meet, they may hunt together, socialize, or mate. We did get to see some social behavior as the whales rolled around each other, tail slapped, and splashed in the sun.  It was very fun to see so many whales in one spot, enjoying their day as much as we were enjoying ours.

Even though we were a bit late coming home, we could not resist a quick stop at Race Rocks Lighthouse to check out all the Harbour Seals, California Sea Lions, and Steller Sea Lions!  These three different species of pinnipeds spend most of their time soaking up the sun on the islands and fishing the rich waters surrounding the historic black-and-white lighthouse.  We did see one male with a larger flasher from a fishing line hanging out of his mouth. We quickly called the marine mammal rescue specialist from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to report the incident. Hopefully, the department can pay a visit to Race Rocks and try to remove the hook and line from this guy. We always report any wildlife entangled or who have swallowed fishhooks so that they can get help.  It was a great day to learn about and see so many creatures that live off the Pacific Northwest!

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