August 16, 2016 – Another sunny day in Victoria as the Marauder IV headed out of the harbour. There was fog west of Victoria so we headed east towards Discovery Island. There were no reports of whales so all boats were searching different areas. About 30 minutes into the trip Captain Ian heard a report of killer whales in the fog near Race Rocks. We began the trip there hoping to find them. As we got close, we saw that the killer whales were swimming towards us and had emerged from the fog into the sunshine. The whales were members of J-Pod, a group of resident killer whales that we often see in the summer. Among them was Granny the matriarch of J-pod and the oldest killer whale in the area – and perhaps in the world. The average life expectancy for a female killer whale is 50 to 60 years, Granny is 105 years old and still going strong. With her was Onyx (L87). Resident killer whales stay with the pod they are born into for life. Onyx is the only whale in the area that we know of that has changed pods. When his mother died, Onyx moved to K-Pod then moved again to J-Pod where he has stayed. Strange behaviour for an adult male killer whale. He is often seen in the company of Granny.
In the afternoon we headed into Juan de Fuca Strait where we again found Granny, Onyx and others from J-Pod. After awhile we heard a report of killer whales and humpback whales further south so we headed that way. Before long we found another group of J-Pod whales. It was the J16s – the matriarch Slick, her adult son Mike, a daughters Echo, Alki and Scarlet. Scarlet was born in December 2014 and was the first of the Southern resident baby boom with 8 calves from between Dec 2014 and Dec 2015. At 44 years old, her mother Slick is the oldest whale in the area to have a calf. Most females don’t have calves after an age of around 40 years old. After viewing the J16s for some time we headed west looking for humpback whales. Before long we found a female named Big Mama and her calf. Since 2003 Big Mama has had 6 calves in southern waters that she has brought back to the waters around Victoria. After plenty of time watching the humpbacks, we headed back to Victoria happy with the many sightings we had.
Find photos from the day on our Facebook Page!