October 16th - Transient orca in Nanaimo's backyard!
What an exciting day! While checking our guests in at the office we received a hot tip of some orca just outside of Nanaimo. Captain James set off early to do a search on his own and he was able to find them! While guests quickly put on their suits and made their way to the dock, James kept an eye on the whales until he also had to go to the dock. Amazing what a difference ten minutes can make!
Once boarded, Cascadia set off to reacquire the orca but it wasn’t as easy as it seemed! Killer whales can hold their breath for over 20 mins and change their travel speeds quite frequently. It was hard to say if this pod had headed north quickly or were hugging the rocky shores and blending in the glare and rocks. Other boats from Vancouver joined in the search and the whales were reacquired a full hour and a half later!
Killer whales T65A2, T49A2, traveled north towards Five Finger Islands, and then turned south again into Departure Bay. People onboard BC Ferries afternoon were also treated to quite the show! The whales were tail slapping and we even got to see one breach!
T65A2 is a young adult male, born in 2004 and his fin is getting bigger and bigger each year. His is most noticeable because of its size but also because of the nick about a third of the way down. T49A2 “Judy” was born in 2007 and often travels separately from her pod. The relationship of maturing females within a pod is still a big mystery to scientists. In general, killer whales spend their entire lives with their mothers and form matriarch societies. Often, when the female calves become sexually mature, they will break off and start their own pod or break off and travel/socialize/mate with other pods. Perhaps these two orcas are starting up a little romance?!
Here are some of the best photos taken by marine naturalist Jilann Campbell during the tour: