July 6th - An energetic humpback whale and killer whales!
The morning of the 6th was an exciting trip filled with beautiful sights and some amazing acrobatics by a humpback whale!
We left the dock heading towards a report of a humpback not to far from home, only on the southern side of Dodds Narrows, near the De Courcy Island groups. When we got there we saw that the rumours were true, this humpback was being super energetic! Other boats who were on scene before us had been counting the number of breaches that this humpback had done and had gotten all the way up to 50! During the time we got to spend with the humpback that count rose to 81, and he was still jumping when we left.
There are many theories about why humpback whales breach. One reason is that they do it to aid in hunting. The impact from their bodies hitting the water may stun their prey, making it an easy target for them to eat. It may also be to remove parasites, or to scratch an itch on their bodies. With 81 breaches it would have had to be a very itchy whale!
The more likely theory in this case may be that it was to show of the fitness of the whale. Earlier reports had been that there were two whales in the area and a blow was said to be seen from others in the distance, so it could have been that he was showing off.
Shows of fitness like this are very common in the animal kingdom, showing that they have good genes that should be passed down to the next generation. The amount of power to launch their huge bodies (30,000kg) out of the water is incredible. From the 81 breaches this guy must be super fit. The time spent with this humpback is something both the crew and the guests will never forget.
On the afternoon tour the humpback had moved on, and we got to see Orca instead! our trip took us down south to Active Pass where we found the T124A's who were travelling north along the coastline. The T124A's are a group of six whales who are often found travelling together in the Salish Sea. While we were with them they decided to cut through Active Pass into the more protected waters within the islands.
When they got into the pass there was a strong current so we noticed their style of swimming change from a more laid-back pace to a fast travel. You can see the difference mostly by the amount of white that shows when they come to the surface to breath. The more white the faster they are, to a certain extent.
When we first got on scene with them they showed mostly their back close to their dorsal fin, but when they started to travel faster we got more looks at their white eye patches. Although Active Pass is named for the first ship to navigate it, the USCS Active, it also lives up to it's name by being very active with regards to traffic.
Towards the end of the pass we got to see this in action when there were two very close passes by Ferries to these whales. When the boats got close you could see a change in the behaviour of the whales. They began to do tail slaps and travel closer together, perhaps being excited by the vibrations from the large vessels or planning as a group how to avoid the boats. Since Orca are highly intelligent animals we usually aren't too worried about them around large vessels since they can usually avoid them, and the BC Ferries are typically good for slowing down and altering course for the whales, although in the tight pass that can be difficult. We were relieved when the whales surfaced again once the boat had passed without any issues. They even proceeded to play around in the wake of the final ferry.
Overall it was an amazing day filled with a ton of wildlife and activity! If you want to join us on a tour give us a call or book online!