August 31st - Humpbacks and The Misfits pod!
On August 31st we hung out with some great whales. In the morning we spent some time with Humpbacks in the strait, and a pod of Orcas near Nanaimo. In the afternoon we caught back up with our pod of misfits along the Sunshine Coast.
Our morning boats were greeted by 3 beautiful humpbacks, Beak, Wilkinson, and a mystery whale who was a bit camera shy, so we were unable to get a good ID photo of their tail.
Whales play an incredibly vital role in the ecosystem that we are still learning about to this day. Whales feed deep in the water, below the ‘photic zone’, where phytoplankton and algae grow and reproduce. When whales return from the deep waters to the photic zone they bring a lot of nutrients with them and kick up phytoplankton and algae back to the surface, so they can continue growing. Whales also produce a lot of waste, which is high in nutrients like Nitrogen and Iron, These nutrients are often in short supply in the surface waters, but are used by phytoplankton and algae to grow. So whales essentially feed the algae and phytoplankton at the surface, which in turn feeds fish, that later feed our whales! It is estimated that Whales cycle as much water as all the tides and winds across the whole world!
On top of cycling the waters, whales also contribute to climate control. By increasing the nutrients in the surface waters, and allowing more algae and plankton to grow, they help remove carbon from the air. Plankton and algae absorb surface Carbon through photosynthesis, locking it away, before it sinks to the depths, bringing all that stored carbon with it.
In short, more whales = more plankton. More plankton = more carbon removed from the environment.
More plankton also means more fish!
When whales were at their historical peak numbers, it is estimated that they were responsible for removing tens of millions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year.
After a check in with our humpbacks our boats moved to a report of Orcas in Dodd’s narrows. They arrived on scene to find a pod of 3 male orcas, a band of misfits! They had T65A2 - Ooxjaa - born in 2004, the whale who shut down the Victoria harbour a few weeks back, traveling and hunting with T49C - Janet - a large male born in 1998, and his nephew, T49A3 - Nat - Born in 2011. These 3 misfit males were traveling away from their pods, in their own little gang. This is definitely an odd pod, aside from Janet and Nat being related as Uncle and Nephew, these 3 normally wouldn’t travel together, as Nat and Ooxjaa both have their own pods, and Janet is considered a lone male.
During our afternoon tour we headed out to catch up with our pod of Misfits along the Sunshine Coast. We found the three of them traveling south along the shore looking for their next meal. It was an interesting day watching such a group of misfit males hanging out together.
Here are some other great photos from the evening with our misfits.
If you’d like an opportunity to see Transient Orcas or Humpback whales in the wild, join us on our next tour!
We have daily tours at 10:30 and 3:30 right now on our open vessel. You can book online through our website, or by calling our office at 1-250-667-5177 and our office staff would be more than happy to help you book a tour or answer any questions you may have.
*all photos are taken with a telescopic lens and cropped for detail. We maintain the required viewing distance of 200m with our orcas and 100m with our humpbacks.