big mama
Orcas in the Sun

July 28, 2016 – This morning the Marauder IV headed out of Victoria Harbour with sunny skies and calm seas. Heading southwest into Juan de Fuca Strait we first found a female humpback whale named Big Mama, and her calf, born last winter in southern waters. Big Mama and her calf returned to our waters in the spring after spending time in warm southern waters while the calf put on weight and added insulating blubber before returning to the frigid waters of Juan de Fuca Strait. Whale milk contains 40% – 60% fat and calves feed about every 15 minutes so they produce blubber quickly. This is the sixth calf that Big Mama has returned with since 2003. After spending the summer feeding in the productive waters of Juan de Fuca Strait, Big Mama and her calf will head south for the winter returning to our waters next spring.

After watching the two humpbacks for a while we headed east as there were reports of transient killer whales east of Port Angeles. Transient killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, and porpoises. When we arrived we saw there were two pods of transients, T65As and T37s. After arriving, with the Marauder drifting with engines off, two killer whales swam towards us and under the boat just below the surface, their black and white bodies clearly visible to those on board. We spent some time watching these two groups of whales as they traveled east towards Puget Sound. As we followed the orcas another humpback whale surfaced fairly close to the Marauder giving everyone on board another look at one of these massive animals. Overall a good morning of whale watching.

In the afternoon we headed southeast to try and catch up with the T65As and T37s again. We were within a few kilometres of the orcas when we saw a humpback breaching some distance behind us so turned to try and get closer. Although there were no more breaches, we got some good looks at the Humpback before continuing east towards the killer whales which were hunting near Dungeness Spit in Washington State. When we arrived the whales were milling around feeding on a harbor porpoise they had recently killed. The whales were still in the area feeding and socializing as we headed back to Victoria.

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