September 6, 2016 – This morning the Marauder IV headed west in search of whales. We had to travel for a while but found two Humpback whales. It was Big Mama and her calf. Big Mama has been feeding in the Strait of Juan de Fuca every summer since 2003. Since then she has returned from the southern breeding grounds with six calves – one every second year. Humpbacks were all but eliminated from the Strait of Juan de Fuca by commercial whaling in the late 19th and early 20th century. Since whaling ceased in the 1960s the Humpbacks have been steadily increasing in the Strait. This year has seen a tremendous increase in Humpbacks. We stayed with Big Mama and her calf for quite a while. They were spending a lot of time on the surface making for excellent viewing. Twice after short dives they surfaced close to the Marauder giving us a fairly close look at these massive creatures.
In the afternoon, we again headed west. As we passed Bentinck Island we sighted black fins close to shore. As we got a little closer we saw they were Transient Killer Whales – the mammal-eating killer whales. They had recently made a kill and were feeding. There was a lot of splashing and blood in the water. At one point one whale surfaced with a chunk of meat in its mouth. Soon after we arrived they started swimming east, following the shoreline, looking for another meal. They swam around Bentinck Island staying close to shore. We stayed with the Transients for about an hour then moved to Race Rocks to look at the hundreds of sea lions and seals that use the rocks as a winter haul out. Besides the sea lions and Harbour Seals, we also saw an Elephant Seal, the largest species of seal with males reaching a length of 5 metres (16 ft) and weighing 2 ½ tons. Overall a successful day of whale watching.