May 14 2019- What an amazing day with Transient Killer Whales just out front of the Victoria Harbour!
Our fleet of two boats set out in the morning in search of wildlife on a typical West Coast day with calm seas and clouds overhead. Skipper Bennit had a group of eager passengers on our speedy zodiac FasTide and Captain Marty was on our large covered vessel, Marauder IV.
The vessels headed out into open water to begin their search. When they got near the shipping markers in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, they were surprised to find a group of eight Transient Killer Whales.
The whales were members of three different groups, the T65B’s, T75B’s and T75C’s. The letter T stands for Transient and the numbers and letters refer to a whale and her offspring. For example, the T65B’s are a family composed of T65B and her offspring. Transient Killer Whales are also known as Bigg’s Killer Whales, named after Killer Whale researcher Michael Bigg. Bigg’s Killer Whales are mammal hunters so it makes sense to see them so close to land where seals and seal lions stop to rest.
Our vessels departed the whales to go check out Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. Race Rocks is a high current area where seals and sea lions congregate beneath the iconic lighthouse. The rocks are a great place for seals and sea lions to haul out and warm up. Seals and sea lions have fur and blubber to keep warm in the chilly water (about 8°C/47°F). The mammals need to spend a lot of time resting and warming up to save energy for hunting.
The afternoon trips began with a search to relocate the whales from the morning.
Both our zodiac, StrongTide, and our covered vessel, Marauder IV, headed out in the afternoon. The challenge was to see if the Killer Whales were still in the area. The last report was that they were moving with the tidal current, pulling them further West towards the open ocean.
To begin the search, our zodiac Skipper, Bennit, ventured to Race Rocks to try to scout out the whales near where they were last seen. The seals and sea lions, a food source for Transient Killer Whales, were abundant but there was no sign of the whales. Bennit decided to explore further West.
Over at Beechey Head, Bennit caught up with the Transient Killer Whales from the morning and was the first boat on scene. Way to go Bennit!
Marauder IV was not too far behind and caught up to the whales at Becher Bay.
After spending some time with the whales, Marauder IV continued on their way to search for more wildlife. Along the way, Captain Marty and his passengers saw some Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions, Elephant Seals and a Sea Otter. For Chief Mate Yves, the marine birds were a highlight, particularly the Pigeon Guillemot. Pigeon Guillemots are known to dive to 20m (145ft) in search of fish to eat!
After a successful day of wildlife viewing, the vessels returned to the picturesque Victoria Harbour. Passengers enjoyed taking in the sights and sounds of the busy harbour. Planes, water taxis, recreational and commercial vessels, as well as kayakers all utilize the scenic harbour everyday.