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It was an authentic Pacific Northwest kind of day. With fog patches on the Salish Sea our whale search had a dramatic atmosphere. As we departed the Harbour we immediately slowed down instead of getting up to speed. Something exciting was just outside the Harbour waiting for us.

Transient Killer Whale
Bigg’s (Transient) Killer Whale off the Victoria Harbour. Photo by Naturalist Gord. Wildlife image taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.

We heard it before we saw it, the powerful exhale of whales breathing at the surface. Looking all around we finally saw them: Bigg’s (Transient) Killer Whales. A small group including females, a mature male, and a very young calf. The calf was still tinted orange. The orange colour fades to white after about a year.

Bigg's Killer Whale
Bigg’s (Transient) Killer Whales. Photo by Naturalist Gord. Wildlife image taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.

It was very special to see these whales so close to the Inner Harbour, they were likely hunting along the coast.

When we found them, however, they began to act playful. They were rolling and showing off their front pectoral flippers. There were even a few jumps and breaches and many tail slaps. This active behaviour would definitely scare off the seals and Harbour Porpoises they like to eat so we knew the whales were not hunting. Perhaps celebrating a recent kill. We followed the whales along the coast to the east, before breaking off to look for some whale food.

Bigg's Killer Whale
Bigg’s (Transient) Killer Whales. Photo by Naturalist Gord. Wildlife image taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.

At Trial and Discovery Islands we checked out some sea birds gathering on top of a bait ball. Then we saw a Harbour Seal perhaps also drawn in by the ball of fish below the surface. There were a few seals up on the rocks at Discovery Island. We got a good look at this prey species that Bigg’s (Transient) Killer Whales hunt.

What an amazing encounter with the whales!

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