Heroic Humpbacks rescue Stellar Sea Lion from the T100’s

Port Angeles

Highlights
harbor seals on Ediz hook
Baitballs and seabirds
Race rocks lighthouse
Resident Orcas
K21 Cappucino says hello
Transient Orcas, Stellar sea lions and Humpbacks fight it out

Stellar in the middle

BCX1215 Orion

MMY0009

MMY0009

BCX1215 Orion

MMY0009

residents

residents

K21

K21

K21

K21

Stellar Sea Lion

Stellar in the middle
Stellar in the middle

Stellar in the middle

We should have known today would be great….or maybe I should say epic. We started off with a great blue heron at the dock and a  harbor seal chasing a fish next to the boat. We left the dock and baitballs were everywhere in the harbor with slews of seabirds feasting. We made it to Ediz hook point and the beach had harbor seals hauled out warming up. We  headed north and slightly west checking out the usual whale haunts with no luck so we aimed for race rocks but got a call about resident orcas so we headed west getting a close look at race rocks.We passed harbor porpoise and some stellar sea lions as we headed to the orcas. We reached Sooke on Vancouver Island and found some of K pod spread out and fishing. We saw K37 Rainshadow, K43 Saturna, K33 Sonata with a few more spread out in the distance. K21 Cappuccino, a 30 year old male decided to give us a show . He came over to the boat and when he was right next to us rolled onto his back  and started lob tailing. The intense smacks  were amazingly loud. We thought that was the greatest show we would see but were we ever wrong. Another call  came in saying there were humpbacks slightly to the south of us so we started to go check them out  when another call told us there were transient or marine mammal orcas in the vicinity and sealions. We  headed straight over there in time to see some crazy surface activity with humpback whales splashing in the distance along with orcas. Then 2 humpbacks surfaced next to us trumpeting and heading right for the excitement. Next thing we know there were 4 humpbacks  possibly 6  all defending  some Stellar sea lions. Orcas surrounded the humpbacks trying to get at the sea lions while the humpbacks trumpeted and thrashed their tails at the orcas. The water boiled all around as the orcas tried to separate the sealions from the humpbacks and one orca smacked a sealion with his tail.It was a wild scene with the humpbacks even circling the sealion trying to keep him safe while he frantically struggled to get his breathe and stay with the humpbacks. The anxiety of the humpbacks was palpable and they took turns diving and slashing at the orcas. It was an amazing unprecedented documentation of behaviours rarely witnessed…an historic event. This once in a lifetime life and death drama went on and on  until the 4 transient orcas known as the T100 family moved off in the distance. As they did we saw a stellar sea lion appear next to the humpbacks being guarded and escorted in the opposite direction.With 2 flukes we were able to ID BCX1215 Orion and MMY0009 some of our more regular whales involved in this spectacular act. What an incredible sight seeing the heroic acts of bravery from our humpback whales  to save  a sealion putting their own lives at risk. The humpbacks decided to come over and make a close pass right under our bow.Wow as if we hadn’t witnessed enough excitement. This was an a unbelievable encounter  that would actually be hard to believe if you hadn’t seen it with your own eyes. For our first time whalewatchers aboard our apologies for your future whalewatches will pale in comparison and for the rest woooohoooooo what a day of whalewatching we had. Hats off to our courageous humpbacks and best wishes for our little stellar sealion… survivor for another day.
Naturalist-Lee

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