Today was a very unique day out on the water, and we had a multitude of beautiful sights to see. It was also a special day spent with an orca family we had seen in days prior; this is unusual as some orcas may travel immense distances in a day (up to 100 miles).
We headed out in a northeast direction from the harbour today, traveling into Haro Strait. Haro Strait is a body of water that separates southern Vancouver Island from several of the Gulf Islands. The orcas, known as the “T2C’s”, were traveling in Canadian waters off of Ten Mile Point, the most easterly point of Vancouver Island.
The group consisted of the leader, the mother, and her offspring (see above image). One of her sons in particular has an incredible story; T2C2 (“Tumbo”) is an orca with scoliosis. Due to deep bonds in the family structure of orcas, he has remained alive and never without companionship, despite being slower and likely a less efficient hunter than the other animals.
Today he was seen lagging behind his family in the Strait; however his family was seen patiently waiting for their fifth member to rejoin them. Hunting marine mammals is crucial to Bigg’s orcas, as this is their food source. The cooperative hunting and food-sharing amongst them, especially for less able individuals like Tumbo, is a testament to the important and complex nature of orca families. We were also able to recognize his larger older brother, by his massive dorsal fin, swimming amongst the siblings.
It was a thrill to encounter such a special family today, however our sights were not over! We were also able to encounter some porpoise, Harbour seals and Steller Sea Lions, all known prey items of Bigg’s orcas.
It was an amazing day on the water being able to witness multiple orca whales, as well as some of the other species that support the important balance of the Salish Sea.
To view more images from today’s trip, click on the link below: