August 15th - Transients throughout the Southern Gulf Islands!
Another day out on the water enjoying the sights of the transient killer whales travelling through our seas! We had some early morning reports of Killer Whales just outside of Active Pass, so off we went!
On our morning trip we were happy to host the Nanaimo Adventure 360° Team (you can check them out at https://www.tourismnanaimo.com/2017/06/09/nanaimo-adventure-360-team/ and keep an eye on blog posts for their trip!) as they filled their day with adventures all around Nanaimo. With an enthusiastic group, we knew the day would be a fun one! As we took off from the harbour and made our way through Dodd's Narrows, we enjoyed the landscapes of the Southern Gulf Islands. The lingering smoke and fog has left haze along the coastlines the past few days, but it still makes for some eye-catching pictures and with minimal winds and glassy waters, it was truly quite serene.
We had to go through Active Pass, the channel of water that BC Ferries use between South Vancouver and Victoria, to come out on the other side and meet up with the killer whales. Just off the east point of Edith Pt on Mayne Island is where we first spotted the orcas with a few other whale watching boats already. With even just a couple surfaces at the start, and a few good photos, it was easy to see that we were watching the T36s and T36As. This is the same family from the previous day's trips and they were still relatively close by to where we last saw them! The two pods are fronted by the mothers, T36 is 48 years old and is followed by one daughter (T36B) and her two offspring. T36's first offspring, T36A, is 28 years old and fronts her own pod of 3 offspring. The two pods consisting of a grandmother, 2 daughters, and 5 grandchildren, engaged in milling all around the islands off Samuel Island.
During our time with the orcas, we were surrounded by so many other wildlife to enjoy during the longer dives. There were harbour seals on the rocks behind us, a surprisingly quiet steller sea lion showing off his stature, cormorants with their wings stretched out, and a bald eagle proudly displaying his pure white feathering.
While we were on scene with the orcas, we heard reports of more killer whales in Trincomali Channel. We decided to shorten our time with the T36s and T36As to see what the other whales were up to! As we arrived on scene, it was quite easy to see that there was a big male in the group, and one that we've definitely seen before. Everyone on board was able to identify the male, two nicks were easy to spot on the top of it's dorsal fin, none other than T36D! He's an 18 year old male, part of the T46s. However, this time, the other members were a bit farther away from him. Usually we see the whole pod travelling together, but this time we mainly saw T46D as he surfaced but we could hear the rest of them once we dropped the hydrophone into the water.
In the afternoon, we were anxious to get back out and see T46D again. We took the same route as our morning trip - through Dodd's narrows and down the Southern Gulf Islands where we stopped at the same place we had just left him, just east of Panther Point on Wallace Island. He hadn't moved very much at all and once the hydrophone was in the water again, it was orca vocalizations that filled our ears all afternoon!
He was vocalizing quite loudly and usually when you hear the whistles or calls of an orca, it is evidence of social communication whereas clicks are generally used for echolocation when navigating in particularly murky environments where visibility is low.
T46D put on quite a show for our afternoon guests, not only did we see tail slaps, but we also got to watch him breach! It looked as if he was flying right out of the water. One of our guests was able to capture it all on video - what luck!!!
We run daily tours at 10:30 am and 3:30 pm during the summer, come out on the water with us and have a killer whale ;) of a time!!