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Victoria Whale Watching Report: What a Week of Whale and Wildlife Watching!

August 31, 2021

Written by: Lori, Naturalist – The week of August 23rd, 2021.

As we approach the end of August, it is nice to take a moment to reflect upon the incredible wildlife encounters that make our summers so fulfilling. It is the best time of year to view whales in the Salish Sea, and we are reminded of this consistently as we untie from the dock and find both killer whales and humpback whales surprisingly close to home. No day out on the water is the same, and I am just as excited as the guests are to see what each tour may have in store for us.

One of the most notable encounters of this week was certainly our experience with the T060’s. We found them on a beautiful sunny day transiting the waters around Discovery Island. They hugged the shoreline closely and we were able to observe some stunning spy-hopping and kelping behaviours. Kelping is a very playful behaviour where orcas are observed draping kelp over their dorsal fins and tail flukes. It is charming to observe, and often gets guests asking, “just what is that long snake-like thing in the water anyway?”

It is a great question that us marine naturalists love to answer! That snake-like looking organism in the water is bull kelp, and we have ended many of our tours this week by dragging some up onto our decks to show our guests. Bull kelp is one of the fastest growing organisms on the planet, growing up to a whopping 10 inches per day. It is extremely important to a healthy ocean ecosystem, as it provides a habitat for thousands of different fish and invertebrates. Transient killer whales are often observed draping it over their bodies, and marine animals like sea otters will wrap themselves in strands of kelp so that they may rest peacefully.

We were fortunate enough this week to find our resident sea otter, Ollie, wrapped in bull kelp near Race Rocks this week as well! I often joke that the hardest part of my job is trying to point out just where he is to our guests. He is well camouflaged amongst the bull kelp, and is a very small sight compared to the huge steller sea lions he shares his habitat with! We have been finding more and more steller sea lions returning to Race Rocks over the last few weeks, and their incredible size never fails to astonish our guests. Male steller sea lions can weigh nearly 2,500 Ibs when they are fully grown, and are an impressive sight when hauled out on land!

As this week comes to an end, I am eager to see what wildlife encounters September may have in store for us. There is no better way to spend the day than to spend a few hours away from the city and immerse yourself in the beauty of the natural world.

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