June 9th - Finding a needle in a haystack!
Yesterday was one of those days where you really have to appreciate the vast size of our search area and how quickly and freely orcas move within it. Some days we start out with reports of a boat already with whales and we *know* we'll get to see them, as long as they don't change their direction and/or speed drastically. Other days we have no leads and we have to organize a search party with other whale watching companies. And then some days we get "rumours", sightings from fishermen and locals who have seen whales earlier in the day but aren't with them anymore.
Yesterday we heard whispers of whales near Snake Island in the morning, but no one had seen anything since. We set out at 1pm to look around Snake Island and after no luck, decided we should head south to where there were rumours of other whales. After a couple hours of motoring along with everyone's eyes glued to the horizon and necks moving on a swivel, we heard another whisper of these northern whales at Entrance Island.
Cascadia pulled a U-ie through Porlier Pass and headed back north to, once again, seek these elusive killer whales. Another hour or so of searching and FINALLY, a sighting right outside of Nanaimo harbour! You gotta laugh.
We found had the needle in the haystack. The family pod of 5 killer whales, the T77's, remained elusive throughout our entire encounter. They seemed to be quite interested in the log booms, often going right next to and under the logs... maybe it was those tasty sea lions napping on the log booms that attracted them!
Orcas can get up to 30 ft long and the mature male in the group (T77B) has a dorsal fin close to 6 feet, but it was still tricky to stay with them because of the zig-zag pattern they were traveling in and the occasional long breath hold. We followed them through Dodd's Narrows and had several nice views of the T77B's tall, majestic fin traveling along the rugged shores of Vancouver Island. In Alanna's photos you can really appreciate the emerald green sea water contrasting with the rocky shore. The exhaled plume from the orca is the icing on the cake of another fantastic day in the Pacific Northwest.