Victoria Whale Watching Report: The Mammal Eating Killer Whales, known as Transient Orca!
August 20, 2020
Thursday, August 20th, 2020 – 12pm Covered Vessel Tour
Nature fooled the weather forecasters today as it called for rain, but we experienced only overcast skies and flat-calm seas. We set out on the Pacific Explorer and aimed southwest. We can see whales literally anywhere in the Salish Sea, including the Victoria Harbour so we start looking as soon as we leave the dock.
We only travelled 9 nautical miles, just south of the Race Rocks Lighthouse when we spotted several black dorsal fins slicing the surface of the water! It was the T109’s and the T109A’s families! They appeared to be stalking towards the tiny islands of Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. This type of orca are known as Bigg’s or Transient Killer Whales, and they only eat mammals. Race Rocks is a perfect area for them to catch seals, sea lions, and porpoises off guard. The two families consist of 12 whales, so they need to hunt a lot of food each day to ensure everyone stays fed and healthy.
We watched as they charged through massive Bull Kelp beds around the islands, most likely catching a late lunch! This area is home to hundreds of Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions, California Sea Lions, and Elephant Seals. When danger arrives in the form of the black and white top predators of the sea, everyone alerts each other to get up on the rocks to safety. The killer whales exhausted their opportunities and headed west.
We decided to take a look for other whales south of Race Rocks. We came across Harbour Porpoises and some guests and crew spotted a minke whale surface about 4 times. Minke Whales are quite elusive and change directions underwater quickly, so they can be hard to track. We continued northeast where we once again came across the Bigg’s Killer Whales. They had moved along the shoreline of Vancouver Island searching for prey in the shallows of a bay. They would surface several times in a row, very close together, then return to the depths for a longer dive. We watched them until our time on the water needed to come to an end. We cruised back on smooth seas, images of the Killer Whales still dancing in our heads!