June 12th - We found whales around every corner!

On June 12th both vessels, the Quick Change II and the Cascadia, left the dock in search of some transient orca that had been spotted off East Point on Saturna Island. Boy were we surprised when we stumbled across two humpback whales along our journey! 

Just after passing through portlier pass we found two humpback whales diving in the area searching for food. The two were whales who are known in this area, Slate and Orion. Slate is named for the lighter grey colouration on the fluke whereas Orion's fluke has white patches near the top.

 Slate (BCX1210) going down for a deep dive. Photo by Val Watson. 

Slate (BCX1210) going down for a deep dive. Photo by Val Watson. 

 Orion (BCX1251) showing off the underside of his fluke before diving. Notice the white colouration for which he is named. Photo by Val Watson.

Orion (BCX1251) showing off the underside of his fluke before diving. Notice the white colouration for which he is named. Photo by Val Watson.

After watching these gentle giants feeding we continued on our journey down south. When we first got on scene with the orca we were greeted by the pod making a kill and celebrating! Being able to watch these apex predators make a kill in the wild is definitely a sight to behold. Being an apex predator means that they are at the top of the food chain! We could see why they're so successful with the amount of teamwork and cooperation shown in the hunt. The speed and size of the Orca must help too! 

 A very happy Orca celebrating the kill with a spy hop while another member of the pod feeds beside them. Photo by Alanna Vivani. 

A very happy Orca celebrating the kill with a spy hop while another member of the pod feeds beside them. Photo by Alanna Vivani. 

The orca we watched were very curious of the boats. To keep the whales safe we always cut the engine anytime they come close to us to check us out. We do this so the engine noise doesn't disturb them and so they don't get hit. 

 Three curious whales checking out Quick Change II. We have our engines off so we don't hurt the whales! Photo by Val Watson.

Three curious whales checking out Quick Change II. We have our engines off so we don't hurt the whales! Photo by Val Watson.

 Celebratory tail slaps as the whales leave the boat behind. Photo by Alannah Vivani.

Celebratory tail slaps as the whales leave the boat behind. Photo by Alannah Vivani.

 The wake from a large cargo ship became a fun ride for the whales as it came towards the pod. Photo by Alanna Vivani. 

The wake from a large cargo ship became a fun ride for the whales as it came towards the pod. Photo by Alanna Vivani. 

The whales were using the disturbance in the water from two tides meeting as a strategy for hunting as it can cause the prey to become disoriented.

 Three transient orca using their environment to their advantage. The rippling patches in the water is disturbance where two tides are meeting. Photo by Alanna Vivani. 

Three transient orca using their environment to their advantage. The rippling patches in the water is disturbance where two tides are meeting. Photo by Alanna Vivani. 

We left this pod to the rest of their hunting and started the journey back north to Nanaimo. On the way back in we stumbled across the humpbacks Orion and Slate once again who we watched make a couple dives before continuing on our way. Once we got alongside Gabriola Island we spotted another pod of Orca in the Strait of Georgia. We were lucky enough to see them being very active at the surface doing wide variety of surface behaviours such as tail slaps and breeching. 

 Group of Orca off of Entrance Island travelling in their family group. Photo by Val Watson.

Group of Orca off of Entrance Island travelling in their family group. Photo by Val Watson.

While with these whales we had one male, T49A1 (also known as Noah), make a few close passes by the boat. Being very intelligent creatures orca are also very curious about their environment so they will often come to the boat to check it out. The guests got more excitement than they bargained for when this massive male surfaced just feet away from the vessel!  

 Noah (T49A1) surfacing just feet away from the vessel much to our surprise! Photo by Val Watson

Noah (T49A1) surfacing just feet away from the vessel much to our surprise! Photo by Val Watson

 Goodbye Noah! Photo by Val Watson

Goodbye Noah! Photo by Val Watson

What an amazing ending to an already great day! 

Jilann LechnerComment