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Morning Tours

The wildlife adventure started before we even got passengers on board when we spotted a couple of River Otters swimming around the dock. The piercing squeak of a kit was unmistakable and we noticed it was a mother and baby twisting and turning in the water. A positive start for the morning to come.

When the Marauder IV set sail a southerly direction was in the cards. After about 30 minutes of travel we spotted a Humpback Whale waving its pectoral fin in the air. It became evident that it wasn’t the only animal in the area as it soon linked up with two other Humpback Whales that all proceeded to swim together.

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale. Photo by Naturalist Emma, image taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.

A great sight to see, aside from migrating, mating and feeding these animals are best known for enjoying their own company. However, it is the Humpback Whale’s summer feeding season so perhaps these three enjoyed feasting together. One was displaying some tail lobbing behaviour, possibly communicating with the others. This gave us a good chance to identify the individual. It was a Humpback Whale named “Valliant” possibly named due to the misshapen flukes and battle scars peppering its tail. We watched as three animals became two, with one going off to feed in a kelp bed, before moving on towards Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. Something very special and unusual was awaiting us there. Hauled out on the land next to a Harbour Seal was none other than the notorious “Harry Otter”. It is a rarity to see Sea Otters on land as they can eat, sleep, mate, give birth and groom themselves in water. Harry Otter may have just been taking a nap! A unique sight to top off our morning watching Humpback Whales.

Harry the Sea Otter and Harbour Seal
Harbour Seal and Harry the Sea Otter. Harry rarely goes on the rocks spending nearly his entire life in the ocean. Photo by Naturalist Emma, image taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.

Afternoon Tours

Our afternoon cruise took us towards Washington State in the United States of America. With the town of Dungeness, as a backdrop, we saw two families of Transient Killer Whales travelling in a tight formation. The two families were the T34s and the T36s. There were some real little ones in the group, positive to see the next generation of Transient Killer Whales healthy and keeping up with the rest of the pod.

Killer Whales
Bigg’s Transient Killer Whales, Photo by Naturalist Emma, image taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.

Further towards the shore we found another whale, T77A, a fully-grown adult bull that has gained notoriety for frequently travelling alone. It was an eye-opening contrast to see the large male right after viewing the mother’s and juveniles of the T36s & T34s. His large dorsal fin, with a distinctive notch halfway down, was impressive.

T77A Killer Whale
T77A Bigg’s Transient Killer Whale, Photo by Naturalist Emma, image taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.

On the way back up north we bumped into the rest of his family: the T77s. Funny for the pod to be in close proximity but for the first-born son to not be associating himself with its mother or siblings. A reminder of the deeply complex social networks Killer Whales form. Another great afternoon out on the Salish Sea with glassy-like conditions and Transient Killer Whales present in abundance.

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