Mike (J-26). Photo credit : Beam Reach Marine Science and Sustainability School

September 8, 2016 – This morning, we headed east after hearing reports of whales in Haro Strait. Shortly after leaving the harbour we encountered a Humpback Whale near Trial Island. It was doing short feeding dives so we got lots of good views while it was on the surface between dives. After watching this large baleen whale we continued east and soon found some of our Resident Killer Whales. We saw a large male who we discovered was J-26, a.k.a. Mike. Part of the J-16 family, Mike is the only adult male in his family. We could see other whales in the distance spread out over a large area hunting salmon. Unlike Transient Killer Whales who hunt as a pack, Residents spread out and hunt individually. After a while we saw a small group of females and calves swimming in the general direction of Mike. As they got closer we saw they were members of Mike’s family – Mike’s mother Slick (J-16) the matriarch of the family and her calf Scarlet (J-50) born in December of 2014. Also with them was Mike’s sister Alki (J-36) and her calf Sonic (J-52). At one point, Mike spy-hopped lifting the front half of his body vertically out of the water. A behaviour used to have a look around.

In the afternoon, we headed out into the Juan de Fuca Strait as the Resident Killer Whales had moved southwest and were not far off from Victoria. There were many whales spread out around the area and soon we saw a large male. It was Mike again. In the distance we could see whales breaching. We watched them breach over and over. As they were heading in our direction, we stayed with Mike and got some great views of him before Alki and Sonic came towards the boat. Both were breaching repeatedly making for amazing viewing. While observing Alki and Sonic, a group of whales traveling together approached us from behind passing on the port side of the boat. In this group were L-77 a female named Matia, L-41 a male named Mega and L-85 a male named Mystery. On the way back to Victoria, we stopped at Trial Island to look at some Harbour Seals basking on the rocks. We affectionately call them Rock Sausages. A very exciting day of whale watching.

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