July 27th - T99's travelling north through the Gulf Islands

Today we had the pleasure of taking our guests out on the water through the Gulf Islands to watch a pod of transient orcas. The T99 family was found travelling north (lucky for us!) but first we caught up with them in the morning right around Sidney, just west of James Island. By the afternoon we watched them continue their travels around Maple Bay, on the west side of Saltspring Island.

No trip is complete without seeing the harbour seals, so off we went to find them hauled out on the rocks. While we usually see them on the rocks, seals generally spend half their time in the water and half their time on land. On average, their dives are around 5 minutes, give or take a few, but they have the capability to be underwater for up to 40 minutes and at depths of around 450 m! Talk about an incredible lung capacity.

 Harbour seals hauled out on the rocks covered in algae. Photo by Rodrigo Menezes.

Harbour seals hauled out on the rocks covered in algae. Photo by Rodrigo Menezes.

The pod of orcas were travelling north during our time with them, watching them surface so rhythmically along the coastal shores. This pod consists of a 34 year old mother (T99, Bella) and three of her offspring aged 11 (T99B, Holly), 9 (T99C, Baracat), and 3 years old. T99B has a very distinctive nick on its dorsal fin, helpful in the identification of not only that individual orca, but the whole pod as well. 

 3 members of the T99 family surfacing, see the remnants of the blow lingering in the air? Photo by Val Watson.

3 members of the T99 family surfacing, see the remnants of the blow lingering in the air? Photo by Val Watson.

 T99B's dorsal fin with the nick. Photo by Val Watson.

T99B's dorsal fin with the nick. Photo by Val Watson.

As we made our way back towards Nanaimo and into the harbour we spotted the tiniest little juvenile seagull swimming around the harbour. Their colouration is very different from the adults in the population. 

 How CUTE is this baby seagull? Try not to let out that high pitched squeal of excitement. Photo by Val Watson.

How CUTE is this baby seagull? Try not to let out that high pitched squeal of excitement. Photo by Val Watson.

You can check out some more photos below, taken by our naturalists! Better yet, book a tour with us online or over the phone and have a chance to see these majestic mammals firsthand! :) 

 Two orcas showing different stages of surfacing. Photo by Val Watson.

Two orcas showing different stages of surfacing. Photo by Val Watson.

 You can see T99B's dorsal fin to the right as another member surfaces to the left! Photo by Rodrigo Menezes.

You can see T99B's dorsal fin to the right as another member surfaces to the left! Photo by Rodrigo Menezes.

 Can you see some of the scarring behind the saddle patch on the orca to the right? Photo by Val Watson.

Can you see some of the scarring behind the saddle patch on the orca to the right? Photo by Val Watson.

 The orcas look so shiny once they've surfaced and the sun reflects off their west bodies. Photo by Val Watson.

The orcas look so shiny once they've surfaced and the sun reflects off their west bodies. Photo by Val Watson.

Jilann LechnerComment