Blackberry (J27)

August 8, 2016 – The Marauder IV left Victoria Harbour under sunny skies with calm seas.  There were reports of killer whales on the west side of San Juan Island so we headed east out of the harbour past Discovery Island, across Haro Strait to San Juan Island.  Once there, we found members of J pod spread out over a large area feeding on salmon.  Resident killer whales eat only fish and primarily salmon.  We saw Blackberry (J27) a large male who was very familiar to us.  We stayed with Blackberry for some time as he took long dives hunting for Chinook salmon, the resident killer whales favourite food.  After many good looks at Blackberry, we headed back to Victoria stopping on the way to pull up a piece of Bull Kelp near Chatham Island.  Bull Kelp is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world, growing an amazing 20 – 25 centimetres a day.  An annual plant, Bull Kelp dies in the winter and new plants grow each spring – growing to a length of up to 30 metres (over 100 ft) in one summer.  After everybody had a good look at the Kelp – and some brave passengers tasted it – we continued on to Chain Islets off Oak Bay to look at the many seals and seabirds on the rocks.  There were lots of seal pups and seagull chicks on the rocks.  As well as adults of both species and Cormorants.

In the afternoon, we again headed east to San Juan Island hoping that J pod was still in the area.  Once there, we soon found the pod including a female and her new calf.  After watching the mother and calf we headed offshore and again found Blackberry slowly swimming alone.  Resident  killer whales spread out over a large area and hunt alone, unlike transient killer whales who hunt as a group like a wolf pack.  Transients eat marine mammals such as seals, sea lions and harbour porpoises so need to work together to subdue larger prey.    On the way back to Victoria we again stopped at Chain Islets to view the seals, cormorants and seagulls with their fluffy little chicks.

Overall, a great day on the water.

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