May 17th - Partyyy!!!

WOW! What a day! A whole congregation of orca pods were sighted near Entrance Island off the coast of Nanaimo displaying an array of activities. We’re talking the T123s (remember Stanley?), T100s, T36As, T124As, T63 (Chainsaw!), T65, and a new baby! Did you get all that? That’s over 20 individuals. 

 Orca calf coming up for air. This little guy has lots of learning to do and will stick very close to mom for the next couple of years. Photo by Mike Campbell.

Orca calf coming up for air. This little guy has lots of learning to do and will stick very close to mom for the next couple of years. Photo by Mike Campbell.

Killer whales live in matriarchal societies – mammas rule! Offspring will generally stay close to their mothers their whole lives, nursing for the first year or so before gradually learning how to hunt.

 Stanley (T123A) showing the new baby the ropes. Photo by Alanna Vivani

Stanley (T123A) showing the new baby the ropes. Photo by Alanna Vivani

 

Naming conventions can seem overwhelming at first, but there’s a method to the madness. Take for example the T124As. Grandma gets the shortest name – T124. Her offspring in order from oldest to youngest are named T124A, T124B, T124C, and T124D. T124A’s offspring, in order, are called T124A1, T124A2, T124A3, and T124A4. Of course, these names can be a bit tough to keep track of, so a lot of our frequent visitors get nicknames as well.

 

 T36A1 leaping out of the water. Photo by Mike Campbell

T36A1 leaping out of the water. Photo by Mike Campbell

Killer whales communicate through whistles, jaw claps, pops, and echolocation clicks, the latter of which can be heard by other whales up to 10 km away! Orcas from different pods will frequently come together to share meals, mate, or just to hang out. Clearly there was something exciting happening with this many whales coming together, especially when looking at the impressive breaches, belly flops, tail lobs, cartwheels, and fluke waves! What an exciting day for our whale watchers, as well as the new baby!

 Killer whale checking out its surroundings - a behaviour known as spy hopping.

Killer whale checking out its surroundings - a behaviour known as spy hopping.

 Photo by Alanna Vivani

Photo by Alanna Vivani

Jilann LechnerComment