The day started in the Pacific Northwest tradition; cool, rainy and grey. The fog hung over the still busy Victoria Harbour. That did not stop the keen passengers onboard the Marauder IV and our high speed zodiac, FasTide. They set out in the afternoon in search of some mammals. There were rumors that some Killer Whales had been spotted in the waters to the East, so that is where Captain Ian headed!
With other whale watching boats in the area, we were certain there were whales nearby. The sight of a few dorsal fins confirmed that we were on scene with some Bigg’s (Transient) Killer Whales. With a few photos taken, crew on board established that the passengers were seeing a hunt in action.
The whales appeared to be hunting a Harbour Porpoise. Harbour Porpoises are small marine mammals that we often see on calm days. Their six-inch dorsal fins and shy demeanor make them a difficult species to observe. They usually disappear beneath the surface as quickly as they appear.
The Killer Whales showed off their acrobatic skills, splashing and launching themselves out of the water in pursuit of the Harbour Porpoise. Bigg’s Killer Whales will use a stealth technique while hunting. Bigg’s Killer whales hunt marine mammals like porpoise, dolphins and seals which all have very good underwater hearing. To avoid detection the Killer Whales will stalk their prey silently underwater until they have made their first strike.
As quickly as the activity began the water was soon coloured pink with blood. The Killer Whales had a successful hunt. After their meal we watched as the whales lay on their backs full and satisfied. What an amazing way to see nature in action!