March 2- Orcas by Discovery

© Five Star Whale Watching/Andrew Lees. Image —A male orca transient whale surfaces northeast of Victoria in Haro Strait, in which the pod was seen to hunt a Sea Lion.

Today was a fantastic and equally exciting trip for seeing a variety of marine mammals! We were fortunate to see a wide diversity of animals that call the Salish Sea home.

We began our journey by heading into Haro Strait, a large body of water that runs along the southeast end of Vancouver island. The journey led us towards Discovery Island and Beaumont Shoals. While in Haro Strait, we encountered a group of orca whales! The orca is a species of toothed whale that travels and feeds throughout the Salish Sea. There are two varieties of orcas that live in the area, a “fish-eating” and a “mammal-eating” type. The group we observed was of the mammal-eaters. In fact, they were actively hunting and pursing a Sea Lion- an exciting opportunity to witness these top predators in action, and a great beginning to the 2019 season!

Orcas are cooperative hunters and will work together to capture prey, sharing the rewards amongst each other. Orcas travel in tight family groups; they are closely bonded and sociable animals. These “mammal-eaters” (known also as Bigg’s, or transient orcas) are differentiated from the fish-eaters by slight physical characteristics, behavior and of course, diet.

Later, we decided to catch a glimpse of some of these animals in the orca-food web. Around Discovery Island, we saw Sea Lions sitting out on some rocks. Sea Lions are large (e.g. hundreds to thousands of pounds) and are no meager prey item, both Steller and California Sea Lions may be seen in Salish Sea waters.

We enjoyed this fantastic trip, as we truly were able to view some amazing diversity in the ecosystems of the Salish Sea. We headed back west towards home, thrilled after such a special encounter.

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

March 2- Killer Whale Hunt


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