March 31- Diversity in the Salish Sea

© Five Star Whale Watching/ Andrew Lees. Image — Two whales belonging to J-pod seen together with their family in the Strait of Georgia today.

We had an incredible amount of diversity on the water today, witnessing a number of unique animals in the beautiful Salish Sea.

Our journey took us far northeast, into the Strait of Georgia. We had passed some large Gulf Islands and we stopped slightly north of Patos Island, a small island belonging to Washington State. Here we encountered a family of orca whales!

The orcas were identified as members of J-pod, one of three pods that compose the Southern Resident Killer Whale clan (SRKW’s). The SRKW’s eat primarily salmon, specifically Chinook salmon. The whales appeared to be foraging for salmon, as they were spread out around the area and were not travelling together in a straight line. The orcas were also active, even displaying behaviour in which an individual lifted its pectoral fin high into the air while on its side.

Orcas of the SRKW’s are fish-eaters as opposed to another ecotype that exist in these waters that are mammal-eaters. It is always a memorable experience to witness each of these unique individuals in the Salish Sea.

Our trip would bring us more animals to encounter, and we did not head home yet. At an island known as Spieden Island, we looked out for any more species that may have been in the area. On the island we spotted Steller Sea Lions and Harbour seals resting on the shoreline. These species are both pinnipeds, but differ in external characteristics like presence of external ear flaps (Sea Lions) or not (seals).

Up the island, we witnessed some of the unique residents of Spieden; Sika deer and Mouflon sheep! These terrestrial creatures are remnants of the historical big-game reserve that ran through the 1970’s-1980’s.

This was an incredible day filled with aquatic and terrestrial animals alike- it was incredible to witness so much biodiversity.

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

March 31st- J-pod and Spieden Island

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