March 17- Bell Island Bigg’s

© Five Star Whale Watching/ Andrew Lees. Image — A male orca surfaces near Bell Island in the San Juan Islands; he was one of several whales seen in the area of the family known as the “T2C’s”.

Today was fantastic in that we were given an amazing encounter with magnificent orcas amidst a beautiful Salish Sea scene.

We began our tour by heading northeast out of the Victoria harbour. We traveled through Haro Strait, a large body of water that separates Vancouver Island and various Gulf Islands in the U.S. We decided to head farther into these San Juan Islands, and ended up near Belle Island, off of Orcas Island.

It was in this area that we encountered orca whales! They were Bigg’s, or transient orcas. This means that they feed on marine mammals such as Sea Lions, Harbour seals and porpoise that are frequently in these waters. The orcas did not appear to be hunting at this time, and instead we observed them gracefully travelling together in the beautiful backdrop of islands.

The individuals were of the family “T2C”, meaning they are a specific group of transient orcas known by scientists. This family is known to consist of a mother born in 1989, and her offspring. Orca sons, and even daughters, will often remain with their mothers their entire lives, rarely separating for long periods of time.

There was definitely a large male present (see above image) in the area (a son), as all could immediately notice the towering dorsal fin slicing through the surface; these reaching up to six feet high in some males! Females, even when fully grown, will have shorter and more curved dorsal fins.

We were to excited and fortunate to witness these amazing predators swim together in their wild habitat, and we headed back to Victoria thrilled from such an exciting and beautiful day!

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

March 17th- T2C’s near Bell Island.


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