July 14th - Humpbacks in the straight and Orcas in the Sound!
Today we had humpbacks and orcas!
We found a mom and calf humpback pair near Gabriola Island. We got to see the calf breach twice! We didn’t managed to get any fluke shots, so we weren’t able to ID them in the morning, but in the afternoon we came across another pair, closer to Bowen Island, this time we did get some tail shots! We were able to ID Split Fluke ( BCX1068) and her new calf that was born this year! It’s possible this were the same 2 we saw in the morning, but we can’t say for sure.
Humpback calves are born 10-15 feet long, and up to 1 ton! They are born during the winter at 1 of three breeding grounds, Hawaii, Mexico and Central America. The calves rely on moms milk for the first year, growing incredibly fast, doubling in size. They slowly wean off moms milk in the second year as they learn to hunt schooling fish and krill.
Moms are very affectionate towards their calves, swimming very close and often touching fins.
While humpbacks don’t stay with their families long, we do believe that they recognize their moms throughout their lives. They are often found along the same routes and same feeding grounds as each other.
On both our trips we hung out with the T101 pod. In the morning we found them heading north through Howe Sound and we followed them all the way around Anvil Island. In the afternoon we found them heading east near Bowen Island. They were doing lots of traveling!
The T101’s consist of Reef (T101, 1973), Rush (101A, 1993), Lagoon (T101B, 1997) and Beardslee (T102 1984).
Reef is the matriarch of the pod, and she travels with her 3 sons. Beardslee was ID’d without Reef the first time he was seen, so he has a different ID code, but we are pretty sure Beardslee is actually Reef’s first son.
Orcas, unlike humpbacks, form incredibly strong bonds with their families. Reefs sons will stay with her until she passes away, at which point they will become lone males. Lone males often join up with other pods, often they will join their sister or aunts pods, and sometimes brothers will stay together.
Seeing Reef and her boys is always a spectacular sight, even if they are just traveling. Seeing such big boys next to their mom is always incredible. Especially when we consider that reef is actually a pretty big girl!
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