July 10th - Humpbacks and Orcas in the Southern Gulf Islands!

July 10th was a very exciting day out on the water! During the morning tour we got to see a pair of humpback whales travelling and feeding together and in the afternoon were lucky enough to some very active orca!

 Young orca travelling with its family group. Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Young orca travelling with its family group. Photo by Alanna Vivani.

We found the humpbacks travelling along the coast of Saturna Island doing a lot of deep dives, meaning they were most likely feeding. The two whales that we saw are named Raptor and Heather. Each whale can be identified by the shape of their dorsal fin, the markings on the underside of the fluke (tail fin), and by notches or shapes on the edge of their fluke. When going down for feeding dives they will arch their backs and put their flukes into the air to give extra momentum for diving. 

 Heather going down for a deep dive! Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Heather going down for a deep dive! Photo by Alanna Vivani.

These humpback whales have recently returned to the waters in the coast of BC from their migration down to Hawaii or Mexico where they breed. Our nutrient rich waters provide them with food during the summer months so they build fat reserves which they survive off of while breeding down south. 

 Heather's fluke as she takes a dive. The white patches on the edges are used for identification. Photo by Alanna Vivani

Heather's fluke as she takes a dive. The white patches on the edges are used for identification. Photo by Alanna Vivani

Typically humpback whales will be solitary when feeding in these waters so getting to see two together is a special treat!

 Fluke of Raptor (right) and dorsal fin on Heather (left). Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Fluke of Raptor (right) and dorsal fin on Heather (left). Photo by Alanna Vivani.

After spending some time with Raptor and Heather we saw some seals which were being watched over by a bald eagle. We usually find this eagle perched on the sign here, probably because it gives a great vantage point into the waters within Portlier Pass. It is likely looking for fish near the surface to catch.

 Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Photo by Alanna Vivani.

In the afternoon trip the guests got a special surprise when they got to see some orca being very active at the surface. A large group of whales, the T124A's and the T36A's, were found off of Prevost Island and there was lots of excitement! We were greeted with plenty of tail slaps, fluke waves, and even some breaching! 

 Breaching Orca! Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Breaching Orca! Photo by Alanna Vivani.

During hunting there can be a lot of surface activity with the whales coming up for breaths, tail slapping to stun the prey, and breaching when the whales get excited. 

 Spectrum of colours in the blows of these three whales coming up for a breath. Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Spectrum of colours in the blows of these three whales coming up for a breath. Photo by Alanna Vivani.

On the surface the hunt may look hectic but under the water these animals are killing machines. They use the size of their pods to their advantage, working together to attack the prey so each whale won't become to tired and let the prey escape. 

 Excellent example of surface activity during the hunt. From left to right we have; orca coming up for air, orca doing a deep dive, and two tail slaps. Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Excellent example of surface activity during the hunt. From left to right we have; orca coming up for air, orca doing a deep dive, and two tail slaps. Photo by Alanna Vivani.

They use a combination of physical, visual, and verbal communication while hunting and it is usually the matriarch which will lead the others. 

 Two orca doing synchronized fluke waves. Photo by Alanna Vivani. 

Two orca doing synchronized fluke waves. Photo by Alanna Vivani. 

There were tons of examples of all these surface activities while we were with the whales, but I'll let you take a look for yourself! A picture is worth a thousand words after all. 

 Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Photo by Alanna Vivani.

 Perhaps a pregnant female? Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Perhaps a pregnant female? Photo by Alanna Vivani.

 Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Photo by Alanna Vivani.

 Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Photo by Alanna Vivani.

 Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Photo by Alanna Vivani.

 Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Photo by Alanna Vivani.

 Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Photo by Alanna Vivani.

Give us a call or book online to find out what your adventure might hold! 

Jilann LechnerComment