April 30th - Two bulls (T87 and T124C) travelling together around Texada Island
On April 30th our boat headed north towards reports of transient orca that were last seen around Powell River and heading south. Usually our sightings take place in the Strait of Georgia or in the Gulf Islands, so it is always extra exciting when we get to venture north along the Sunshine Coast. April 30th brought us even further north, into Malaspina Strait! Crew were intensely scanning the shorelines, determined to locate these rumoured whales..
Fins ahead! Naturalist Rodrigo Menezes spotted two tall fins belonging to bulls T87 and T124C. These adult male transient orca are both “lone males”, not belonging to any particular pod. Killer whales are known for being very social animals and for having strong, long-lasting bonds with their family pod members. For whatever reasons, these two males are independent from that social structure and instead choose to mingle with various pods.
T87, “Harbeson” is his nickname, is an old male who is often seen travelling with the T90’s. The average life expectancy of a healthy male killer whale is about 50 years, and we don’t have too many that old in our transient population. Harbeson was estimated to be born in 1962, making him about 57!
T124C, nicknamed “Cooper”, is a much younger male and may be learning the ropes from T87. He was born in 1992 and his mom, T124, is a successful grandmother of many orca we see regularly.
Both of these adult males have unique markings along the edge of their dorsal fin, making it easy to tell them apart. Here are some of the best photos taken during April 30th’s tour by marine naturalist Rodrigo Menezes.