We had an exciting day witnessing some beloved Salish Sea animals. We decided to take our journey east, into Haro Strait. This is a Strait that runs east along the southern end of Vancouver Island.
In the Strait was where we encountered some incredible orca whales. There are two types of orcas that may be seen in the Salish Sea, the fish-eating ecotype and the mammal-eating ecotype. These varieties of orca differ in vocalizations, behaviour and prey type. The whales we witnessed today were fish-eaters, otherwise known as “Resident” orcas, specifically they were J-pod of the Southern Resident orcas, or killer whales (SRKW’s).
This ecotype of orca often travels in large, closely bonded family groups, called pods. There are three major pods that make up the SRKW’s; J-pod, L-pod and K-pod. Unfortunately, all three pods face major threats primarily due to diminishing supply of their primary food source, Chinook salmon. It is always a fortunate experience to witness them in historic areas, and we hope they are foraging successfully.
It is always a pleasure to witness these animals’ grace, beauty and family closeness as they travel and swim together. There are often several generations present in each pod, and orca societies are matriarchal, where grandmothers and mothers are leaders.
It was amazing to witness the individual whales, as well as the magnificence of the family surfacing and swimming together. Along the way, we even came across a couple Steller Sea Lions; a favourite prey item for the other ecotype of orca mentioned above. In addition, we caught a glimpse of a juvenile Bald Eagle!
It was a fantastic day witnessing some curious and unique animals that frequent the Salish Sea. To view more images from today’s trip, click on the link below: