June 19th - An exciting trip with the T137's

On June 19th our trip took us down south where we found the T137's, a pod of four killer whales. When we found the whales they were travelling very close to the shore, a common technique that they will use when hunting. Since killer whales are members of the dolphin family it means that they are very intelligent. They will use the landscape to their advantage whenever they can. Often when hunting they will push prey into bays and rock crevices to minimize the area the prey has to evade them. Killer whales will use teamwork to their advantage when hunting. Their large body size and speed in the water are other tools they use.

 T137A (Jack) and T137 (Loon) travelling close together. You can see the size difference between males and females. Loon is 35 years old while Jack is only 16. Photo by Val Watson.

T137A (Jack) and T137 (Loon) travelling close together. You can see the size difference between males and females. Loon is 35 years old while Jack is only 16. Photo by Val Watson.

 T137B (Tempest) surfacing in the waters of the southern gulf islands. The amount of water being thrown gives an idea of how fast they are going. Photo by Val Watson.

T137B (Tempest) surfacing in the waters of the southern gulf islands. The amount of water being thrown gives an idea of how fast they are going. Photo by Val Watson.

After being on scene for a few minutes we were lucky enough to have our suspicions confirmed when they begun hunting! During the encounter we dropped a hydrophone into the water and got to experience the communication between the members of the pod. It was a truly unique and amazing experience. Once the hunting began it looked like organized chaos in the water, but the killer whales knew what they were doing. Orca will commonly use their large flukes to slap the water and stun their prey. 

 The large fluke of Jack can be seen slapping the water on the left while Loon his mother is behind him. Photo by Val Watson.

The large fluke of Jack can be seen slapping the water on the left while Loon his mother is behind him. Photo by Val Watson.

Hunting involves a constant barrage of attacks by the members of the pod to exhaust the prey and make it easier to kill. Again teamwork is important at this stage so each individual whale won't get too tired. 

 Jack is taking his turn attacking the prey while Loon takes a moment to rest in the background. Photo by Val Watson.

Jack is taking his turn attacking the prey while Loon takes a moment to rest in the background. Photo by Val Watson.

While todays hunt was very successful sometimes the prey can fight back. Most Orca in the wild will have a collection of scars on their body from prey defending themselves, family squabbles, and sometimes from interactions with humans.  

 The scars on Jacks back show that he's has some fights in his lifetime. The nicks out of his dorsal fin tell the same story. Photo By Val Watson. 

The scars on Jacks back show that he's has some fights in his lifetime. The nicks out of his dorsal fin tell the same story. Photo By Val Watson. 

Some celebration ensued after the hunt was completed as is common with the transient killer whales. 

 T137B (Tempest) coming out of the water while celebrating the kill. Photo by Val Watson.

T137B (Tempest) coming out of the water while celebrating the kill. Photo by Val Watson.

 Large fluke of one member of the T137s with Tempest to their left. Surface activity is very common after a kill. Photo by Val Watson.

Large fluke of one member of the T137s with Tempest to their left. Surface activity is very common after a kill. Photo by Val Watson.

While watching these extraordinary events taking place we were lucky enough to have Jack show off his large fluke again much closer to the vessel. These creatures are very curious of their environment so it was likely he was coming in to check us out. 

 Jack showing off the underside of his fluke. The blurry heads of excited guests can be seen at the bottom. Photo by Val Watson

Jack showing off the underside of his fluke. The blurry heads of excited guests can be seen at the bottom. Photo by Val Watson

You can see in the picture the amount of curl in the large fluke of Jack. This curling occurs naturally over time due to the large size of the structure and lack of bone. The structure of the fluke and other fins are maintained by cartilage. 

On the way home we were lucky enough to see some adorable seals who were being watched over by a bald eagle. The seals will commonly haul-out together in this area and but spotting them can sometimes be difficult due to their amazing camouflage!  

 A few lazy seals hauled out on a rock. One is giving us an unconcerned look over the shoulder. Photo by Val Watson.

A few lazy seals hauled out on a rock. One is giving us an unconcerned look over the shoulder. Photo by Val Watson.

 A Bald Eagles perched on top of a marker on the seal haul-out site. Check out the size of those talons! Photo by Val Watson. 

A Bald Eagles perched on top of a marker on the seal haul-out site. Check out the size of those talons! Photo by Val Watson. 

With all the excitement of this trip it made it an unforgettable experience! If you would like to join us and make some memories of your own you can book online or call to join us on one of our daily tours!