May 8th - T18's in Stuart Channel

 T19B's tall, tilted fin and saddle patch full of scars! Photo by Alanna Vivani

T19B's tall, tilted fin and saddle patch full of scars! Photo by Alanna Vivani

On May 8th we found the whales! We work with an amazing network of whale watching companies in the area and we all share our sightings. Often finding whales can be like finding a needle in a hay stack, but because of this network we are able to boast 90% sightings success. Yesterday morning our boat was the one to find a family of orca traveling just south of Nanaimo!

 Brotehr T19C 'Spouter' cruising next to an islet in the Gulf Islands. Photo by Alanna Vivani

Brotehr T19C 'Spouter' cruising next to an islet in the Gulf Islands. Photo by Alanna Vivani

We spent an hour observing the T18's. The T18's are a pod of 4 whales - T18 'Esperansza', T19 'Mooya', and her two sons T19B and T19C 'Spouter'. Mooya was estimated to be born i 1969, making her one of our more mature females that we see in the Salish Sea.

 T19C was born in 2001. That fin might get even bigger! Photo by Alanna Vivani

T19C was born in 2001. That fin might get even bigger! Photo by Alanna Vivani

T19B is a mature male who is quite distinctive from the others. He has a dorsal fin that is 5-6ft tall and leans significantly to the left! If you see him on the water you will be able to identify him quickly because of this unique fin tilt.

 T19B in flat calm seas on May 8th. Photo by Alanna Vivani

T19B in flat calm seas on May 8th. Photo by Alanna Vivani

We aren't quite sure why his fin tilts over to the left. A lot of whales in captivity will have fins that are completely collapsed, and this is likely due to the lack of water pressure on the sides that a wild orca has to keep the fin straight. In captivity orca spend a lot of their time 'logging' at the surface, and the tanks are only so deep and long it doesn't offer them much opportunity to swim and maintain an erect fin. We are happy to see so many tall fins out here in the wild!

 T19B's unique fin that leans significantly to the left. Photo by Alanna Vivani

T19B's unique fin that leans significantly to the left. Photo by Alanna Vivani