Saturday, September 30, 2006

Superpod - audio clip

Today’s Ocean Magic II trip took us out east toward North Pender Island. There we met up with the southern resident, fish eating, killer whales. The superpod was spread out across Swanson Channel foraging north for salmon. The whales were quite active and acrobatic in their fish chases. Baba / L26, Alexis / L12, Polaris / J28, Shachi / J19, and Eclipse / J41 were all identified among the groups. A male and female pair was engaged in mating behaviour. As we watched all the activity, a young whale swam under the water looking up at the passengers as it passed. Wow, some of the best whale watching this year!!


(HAHAHA um please excuse my excitement, she really did surprize me!!!)

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(^ seasnake photo by Rachael Griffin)

WELL! We traveled to Active Pass today to catch up with the fast traveling southern resident superpod of killer whales! The animals were very wide spread when we arrived. Eventually groups, pairs, individuals passed by. We had quite the look at some interesting behaviors such as some rolling around (mating and whale indecent exposure), high speed hunting pursuits, and even a curious female who looked us along side our boat before porpoising off (see video up top) and what a surprise she gave us! Some pretty epic views of the animals and the BC Ferries today as well. Some of the sighted animals were; J19 and calf J41, females L26, J28 & L77, L73 or L74 - both large males, as well as many many others I did not personally see as so many were passing by in all directions. Today was an overload for all the senses! It might be fall but there is so much to see all year round!

Here are some more fab photos from our guest Marie O'Shaughnessy

Thursday, September 28, 2006

T100's & T90's Killer Whales


Today on yet another flat, calm, sunny and warm day, we traveled into Haro Strait where approximately 10 transient killer whales T100's & T90's (not sure how many) were together heading north. The females were together with their calfs. The males were some where around the Hein Bank (south San Juan Island) area while this group was in the Kelp Reef area. The animals definitely made an attempt at killing a Dolls porpoise, and may very well have killed and ate it but very quickly. Most of the action occurred very quickly with some animals airborne as well as the porpoise. A few of the shots above are from that pursuit. After the hunt, the animals grouped together and continued to swim north. At times they broke apart giving spy hops and tail flukes. Their dive patterns seemed to be more rhythmic in comparison to other days. Saw the dog poop research boat out there today, trailing not far behind the t's. What a beautiful sighting of these majestic creatures!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Humpbacks & T100 Group


Today’s Ocean Magic II trip started out at Pillar Point, WA, to view a pair of Humpback whales. Along the way groups of Dall’s porpoises were seen traveling at high speeds, creating ‘rooster tails’ of water. The Humpback whales were a half-mile from shore and were different animals than yesterday. The mother and calf logging at the surface then took short dives as they circled around the vessel at a good distance. Female Humpback whales get up to 50 feet long (15m) and weigh over 60 thousand pounds (30tonnes). Their massive size was revealed by the sound of their loud strong breaths against the calm waters. Humpback whales feed in the summer on schooling fish (herring, capelin, mackerel, and salmon), krill, and other crustaceans then migrate to the warmer waters of Hawaii for the winter. These baleen whales are well known for their long flippers and distinctive head knobs. Each tubercle is a hair follicle with a single coarse hair growing out of the center. Humpbacks are probably the most energetic of all the large whales and are fortunately recovering their territory after being nearly wiped out from the whaling industry. On the way back to Victoria we saw a US submarine being escorted by two coast guard vessels. We then had a nice surprise with the T100 Group of transient, meat eating, killer whales about a half-mile west from the Race Rocks ecological reserve. Sea gulls flew overhead while the family traveled northwest toward Vancouver Island.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Superpod - audio clip

The noon Ocean Magic II trip lead us out through Hughes Passage to meet up with the southern resident killer whales a couple miles from Turn Point, Stuart Island. The whales had just turned south and were spread out north to Pender Island. Groups of animals were engaged in foraging behaviours and others were social and very vocal. A mother and calf pair logged at the surface for a period of time and rested. The calf spy hopped and the mother lunged forward as they continued along their way. We then stopped over at Race Rocks to view the male sea lions battling for prime territory. On the way back to Victoria we stopped to view a mother and calf pair of humpback whales a couple miles offshore. An amazing end to another stellar whale-watching day.

JKL pods, humpbacks


Good heavens, what a day! We set out to find the southern resident killer whales who were traveling north near Turn Point. By the time we arrived, what appeared to be most of the 3 pods were turned around heading south. We witnessed a variety of behaviors including mating behavior, spyhopping, logging, blowing of rasberries (blowing fart noises out of the blow hole) cartwheeling, speed porpoising, breaching, tail slapping and more. The animals traveled sometimes in small groups or individudally. Near the end of our time with the orcas we had a great surprize as a group passed our port hand side. We saw many of the J's and L's and recognized a variety of the large males however many were backlit so it was a bit difficult to see who the others were exactly.

On our way home from this spectacular sight, we stopped in at Race Rocks to see the compiling groups of sea lions and a few elephant seals hauled out and swimming in the reserve. We got word that the two humpback whales (mother and calf) were sighted not far from there so we headed over and watched them as they swam together sometimes lifting their tails out of the water. Calf was fairly close to mom, what a sweet sight to see these guys returning to our waters each year. They are here for a short time before heading across the pacific to Hawaii. Spectacular day indeed! Felt like a hot summer August day!

There are tons more photos to see, click on any photo to go back to flickr and there you can see all of todays photos!

For more photos from today and other days trips you can check out our guests awesome shots; Gary Woodburn & Marie O'Shaughnessy

Monday, September 25, 2006

Superpod! - audio clip


Today was one of the most amazing whale-watching days all year!!! All three pods were coming around Turn Point, Stuart Island, creating a superpod when the Ocean Magic II noon trip arrived on scene. The whales spread out and were breaching, speed-porpoising, and foraging south down Haro Strait. Ruffels / J1 and Granny / J2 were traveling together and swam near the vessel. The J16 matriline, Spock / K20, and her calf Comet / K38 were seen off near Henry Island. Flash / L73 was seen near by Sydney Island and the backlit whales in the fall lighting were spectacular sights surrounded by the coastal islands.