We departed the Victoria Harbour in search of wildlife. Rumours of Humpback Whales had us eager to find the gentle giants. In the morning we ventured west and made a stop at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. There, we saw a Bald Eagle, Steller Sea Lions and California Sea lions. The number of sea lions grows each day as these animals return from their time away at their breeding grounds.
The Race Rocks passage was alive and active. Many splashes and flashes of slick bodies suggested that there were more sea lions below the surface feeding on a bounty of fish. The conditions at Race Rocks are ideal for many underwater species like fish and invertebrates that live in the protection of the kelp forest. Strong currents bring in nutrients and fresh oxygenated water supporting the marine life. After visiting the ecological reserve we continued westward looking for the blow of a Humpback Whale.
Before long we were surrounded, with whales all around. We saw single whales and pairs in all directions, at least 14 blows including those in the distance. We got a few close looks and were able to photograph the whale tails. From the photos we identified two of the whales as “Two Spot” and “Titan”. We have seen these whales in the area previously so it was nice to know they are finding food and hanging around in the area.
We set out in hopes of rejoining the group of Humpback Whales from the morning. With a flooding tide we were working against the current but pushed onward. We were elated to see some blows in the distance as we arrived at the spot near where we had been in the morning. The group of whales had not moved much, the feeding must have been good there.
We watched the whales as they surfaced and dove, showing off their large smooth backs and powerful yet graceful tails. We even got to see a tail lob; one whale energetically launched the back half of its body out of the water, creating a huge splash!
We were able to photo ID a few individuals on this tour as well. “Two Spot” made another appearance, apparently he has a very photogenic tail! We also found an individual only known as MMZ0028. All the whales in our catalogue have an alpha-numeric code name, only a few have nicknames. We got a good photo of a third whale but this one was not in the catalogue, perhaps a new whale to our region! We are excited to be able to contribute new information about whales that are visiting our waters. By sharing these identified whale sightings we are adding to the story and life history knowledge of these whales. The information is how we can approximate a whales age, typical behaviour and travel patterns.
After a plentiful day on the water we returned to the Victoria Harbour bustling with activity. What a great day!