When we leave the harbour on any given day, we never know how far out we’ll need to go to see wildlife. Sometimes it will take a while, and sometimes we find animals a little closer. Today was one of those days when we stumbled on wildlife almost immediately outside of Victoria Harbour! Only about 10 minutes outside of the breakwater we came across a pod of transient orcas, the T137’s, named for the matriarch. She and her three offspring were slowly moving along, showing off their beautiful black-and-white colour and charismatic dorsal fins. The large male was moving slowly, resting, gracefully and slowly bringing his dorsal fin out of the water.
We left the orcas and continued south where we spotted another species, a humpback whale. It threw us for a little spin, popping up on either side of the boat each time it surfaced between dives. However, we were still able to get a gorgeous look at its large tail flukes and massive blows, always a special sight. With a stop at Race Rocks to see the huge gathering of California sea lions, Steller sea lions, harbour seals, and sea birds galore, we had a full and awesome morning.
With whales only 10 minutes outside of the breakwater in the morning, we set sail hoping for a similarly great start. We weren’t disappointed, this time finding whales only 5 minutes outside of the harbour! It was the T137’s again, but this time they were much more active. Porpoising, splashing, and even breaching, the pod was clearly on the hunt trying to subdue a large sea lion. We watched as they worked together, jumping on top of their prey and even smacking it with their tails. It isn’t every day that you get to see a killer whale hunt in progress, it was truly an awesome sight.
We continued east, getting great views of the cormorants, murres, gulls, and other marine birds that live around Discovery Island. Even a bald eagle made an appearance! We toured around the island before making our way back to Victoria only to find the same pod of orcas. They were still quite active, this time likely playing with their meal. We watched as they splashed around in the water, socializing and playing in celebration of their successful hunt. Pulling in to Victoria, we felt particularly lucky to see such a rare sight.