juvenile humpback whale
race rocks lighthouse
Steller and California sea lions
T123 transient orca family
An overcast and brisk day met us but at least there was no rain. With everyone bundled up we headed out checking out all the sights in the harbor and along Ediz Hook. A huge group of harbor seals were hauled out on the tip of Ediz hook and we took some time to check them out. Then we were off in a northeasterly direction to check out the rockpile where we have had good luck in the past finding whales. A call came in before we could locate any whales about orcas west of race rocks so we changed course and headed towards Vancouver Island. Some harbor porpoise were spotted as we headed north but as was their normal behavior disappeared quickly. As we got near Race Rocks suddenly a humpback whale appeared on our port side heading east so we made a detour to check him out. With the raising of his flukes for his deep dive we saw it was the same juvenile whale we had watched yesterday. With low surfacings and hardly any exhalation we lost him as he headed on so we returned to our travels through race rocks knowing we had transient orcas up ahead. We had some great looks at all the wildlife at race rocks including a lot of barking California sea lions and the massive growling Steller sea lions.The lighthouse really stood out with the lighting we had today. An added bonus was a Sea Otter hanging out in the kelp beds and we got extra close looks as Captain Shane maneuvered the boat for the best vantage point. Lots of harbor seals were snoozing on the lower rocks and if they knew what was coming their way they they would be smart to stay there.At last we made it to the Transient Orcas. It was a family of three consisting of T123 Sidney the 31 year old mom. Her 16 year old son T123A Stanley and her 4 year old daughter T123C Lucky. We traveled along with them as they headed east cruising the rocky shoreline checking for lunch occasionally looking like they were chasing something then continuing on in their travels. At one point a huge bait ball had formed with tons of gulls and the orcas must have passed directly underneath as all the birds suddenly flew up in the air and a minute late the big male arched out of the water diving down possibly after a seal. Once again they were on the move and one of them spyhopped checking out a rocky ledge. They bypassed some steller sea lions who were obviously checking them and keeping their eyes on the orcas. Suddenly the T123A and his little sister turned towards the boat coming straight at us. It was amazing to see the size difference between the two ass they waited till the last minute before passing under the boat resurfacing on the other side. Meanwhile mom was checking out the kelp beds while the kids made a wide circle to eventually catch up to her. As we continued back towards race rocks who showed up but our young humpback friend feeding along the shoreline in a westerly direction the orca family passed right by him. What a day!! We finally had to say goodbye to the T123’s and head back across the straits to the Olympics.Great scenery today with beautiful cloud cover and lots of seabirds and two types of whales to start off October!
Naturalist ~ Lee