August 18- Active HB, Orca Family

© Five Star Whale Watching/Katie Smith. Image — A Humpback Whale swims on its side with its pectoral flipper extended upwards; seen at Constance Bank this morning.

Playful Humpback and Orcas 

We had an amazing day for whales, encountering two magnificent species, amongst other marine life!

To begin out trip this morning, we took a southwest route out of Victoria. We travelled along the southern tip of the island until we reached Secretary Island, near Sooke Regional Park. It is here we encountered our first whales! They were members of J-Pod, one of three pods of the Southern Resident Killer Whale community.

These whales feed on Chinook salmon in the Salish Sea, and require a healthy population of fish to survive. We recognized several whales such as J-16 (“Slick”). She is a 46 year old mother and the matriarch of J-Pod. We  also spotted an adult male (her son) known as J-26 (“Mike”). We saw these whales surface in unison and follow the coastline. It is always remarkable to see SRKW families travel together; orcas will live with their family their entire lives!

These whales travelled on and we decided to head northeast, to an area south of Victoria known as Constance Bank. It is here we came across another species, a Humpback Whale!

This animal was displaying some active surface behaviour. It was laying on its side, and had its pectoral flippers lifted directly in the air before it slapped them directly back on the water several times! We were able to see the immense size of the flippers (see above image), which measure about one third the total body length of the whale (these whales can be 45-60 feet long). We could also see the ventral grooves on the Humpback’s throat, which expand as they take in huge amounts of prey-filled water, before filtering the water out with their baleen.

Before our trip was over, we made a stop at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. Here we encountered male Steller Sea Lions and Harbour seals.

It was a great day for seeing a huge variety of marine mammals, and we were fortunate to see some beautiful whales and interesting behaviours.

To view more images from today’s trip, click on the link below:

August 18- Two Whale Species

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