July 18th - Pod of Orcas off of Saturna Island!
This afternoon both of our zodiacs, Cascadia and Keta (new!!), took a trip down the Southern Gulf Islands to meet up with a family of orcas. With the hot weather we've been having, a boat trip on our open vessels keeps our passengers comfortable and cool - even with the anti-exposure suits on!
On the journey down towards Saturna Island, we first stopped off at Porlier Pass for a quick hello with the harbour seals that are commonly hauled out on the rocks just at the entrance of it. Lucky for us, they were there again! Resting on the rocks and enjoying the sun beating down on them, the harbour seals were quite calm but curious. Lifting their heads off the rocks every once in a while to take a look at the excited passengers snapping photos. A few would slide right into the water and get a closer look, their little heads bouncing on the surface of the water looking like a floating ball making its way towards us.
From there, we continued southeast through Trincomali Channel and out through Active Pass where we ventured through the Strait of Georgia to East Point off of Saturna Island. There was already a boat on scene with the whales so once they surfaced it was easy to spot their dorsal fins out of the water! Boy, what a sight it was! Two big males were in the group, evident by the tall and straight dorsal fins amongst the shorter, more curved dorsal fins. Even with the stronger winds in the afternoon causing the waves to be a little bigger than average, we were able to spot those dorsal fins quite easily and identify the individuals!
It was the T46's - a family that is led by T46, a 54 year old transient orca who is now a great-grandmother, and still looking great! She's a really special orca as well, being the last live capture in Puget Sound's Budd Inlet but got released back into the wild.
Her two sons, T46D and T46E, are 18 years old and 15 years old, respectively. Their tall dorsal fins have some easily identifiable features. You can notice on the images below the nicks on the top of T46D's dorsal fin and a nick in the middle of T46E's dorsal fin.
We watched as these orcas travelled, milled, and engaged in some deep dives. Keeping our guests heads on a swivel while they rapidly changed direction underwater. Each time they surfaced it was a game of who could spot them first! After our time was up, we enjoyed another scenic boat ride back towards the Nanaimo harbour