We had reports of Transient Killer Whales near Victoria, B.C. today. When the animals are reported this far away we do have to do a bit of traveling but fortunately the Killer Whales were traveling east and headed our direction.
As we were motoring through the Strait of Juan de Fuca to reach the whales we saw 5 Dall’s Porpoise. The Dall’s Porpoise were actively foraging in the highly productive region. After a few minutes of viewing these animals we continued on our way when we spotted a Minke Whale! The Minke Whale surfaced twice before diving. We knew the whale would be down for several minutes so again we continued on our journey but, it was only a matter of minutes when we came across a number of Harbor Porpoise. The Harbor Porpoise were also taking advantage of the abundance of prey and were actively foraging. Then, it wasn’t much further before we spotted the Transient Killer Whales!
There were 8-9 whales headed north between Middle Bank and Discovery Island (48°23.02N, 123°12.54W). This was a rather large group for the Transient Killer Whales who are known to be very stealthy and elusive. Initially the whales were traveling in a tight group but as we continued watching them they began to spread out and form two smaller groups. They were still traveling within close range of each other; one group of whales was only a few body lengths ahead of the other group. On two different occasions we saw several of the whales circling and diving in a small area while several seagulls were swooping in from above…it turns out the Killer Whales were having a late lunch evident by the remains of what we suspect were Harbor Porpoise, based on our earlier sightings, floating at the surface. When it was time to head back to Friday Harbor the Transient Killer Whales had once again formed a tighter group and were traveling in close proximity of one another.
Then it was time to return to Friday Harbor but just because we were leaving the whales didn’t mean the tour was over. On the way back we saw several more Harbor Porpoise and a number of Harbor Seals. At Whale Rocks over 30 Steller Sea Lions were littering the island, sprawled out and resting or walking about and grumbling at each other. While another 6 Steller Sea Lions had decided to take a dip in the frigid, 48 F waters.
Naturalist Amy, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching and Wildlife Tours