March 25- Acrobatics by the Bluffs

© Five Star Whale Watching/ Katie Smith. Image — A Bigg’s (or transient) orca of family T49A spyhops with his active family, seen just off the coast of South Pender Island.

What an amazing day on the water! We were extremely fortunate to encounter some exciting and acrobatic whales on the water today.

Our journey took us far northeast up Haro Strait, and eventually into Boundary Passage at the southern end of South Pender Island. It was here that we encountered whales, specifically orcas! We witnessed these animals displaying extremely active behaviour, much to the excitement of all on board.

These orca whales were of the mammal-eating ecotype, otherwise referred to as “Bigg’s” or “transient” orcas. The family was identified specifically as the “T49A’s”. The other ecotype feeds on primarily salmon. They were very active, surfacing, charging and diving through the water frequently. We suspected that they may have been foraging close to shore for a meal, like a Harbour seal or Sea Lion!

Among the family was an energetic juvenile, which breached excitedly several times. The family was tail-slapping and spyhopping, the latter a behaviour used to look around at the whale’s surroundings above water. Orcas have very good eyesight both above and below the surface, but use a series of clicks and whistles in order to locate alot of their underwater prey.

It was truly an amazing experience to witness this family in their natural, beautiful habitat. We were able to show our guests what important and close social bonds orcas have with each other. Before returning home, we even glimpsed a large Steller Sea lion resting near Kelp Reef. This is a common prey item for these Biggs orcas. It was truly an exciting day amidst the wildlife of the Salish Sea!

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

March 25th- T49A’s at Pender Island


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