July 31st - Some active humpback whales and hunting orcas, what an incredible day!
We were spoiled by our sightings out on the water today when we got to see two active humpbacks and a pod of orca travelling and hunting a harbour porpoise!
Its great to be seeing so many Humpback whales returning to our waters because not too recently their numbers were very low. Whalers used to target humpbacks because of their large size and relatively slow travel speeds which greatly reduced their numbers in the Salish Sea. After whaling was banned there has been a steady increase in their numbers, showing how effective conservation can be!
There has also been a heavier focus on research in the area with groups such as Keta Coastal Conservation which are trying o learn more about these amazing creatures and why they are coming back to the area. We help them out by sending the locations, identification information and any other interesting notes to them and other research groups in the area to aid with population tracking. This involvement in research is part of why we get so excited when we see the humpbacks poop! Collecting the poop for analysis can tell a great deal about the health of the whale.
Humpback poop is pinkish in colour because of the krill that they are eating and is very useful in nutrient transport in the ecosystem. Humpbacks act as a nitrogen pump since they are diving down to get the food and then they typically poop when they are going for a dive, leaving those collected nutrients at the surface of the water column ready to be used by plankton to expand the base of our food chain.
The population of Transient Orca in the area are also increasing after being impacted by humans. We didn’t hunt the orca but captured them to sell to aquaria around the world. Since the transients have plenty of food and no longer have us affecting them they are increasing rather quickly, with most pods that we see having at least one young calf. When these pods are hunting it can be a spectacular sight! On this trip the boat was lucky enough to see the orca hunting a porpoise, which can be one of the harder prey to take down. This time they ended up actually hitting the porpoise out of the water into the air! WOW!
For your chance to come out to see and learn about these amazing animals you can book a trip through our website or give us a call at 1 (250) 667-5177!