March 9th- Race Rocks Encounter

© Five Star Whale Watching/Andrew Lees. T137A (a male transient orca) is observed surfacing near Esquimalt Harbour as he travelled east; we also encountered other members of the T137 pod on our trip today.

We had an amazing day on the water today, and fortunately witnessed some incredible animals not far from home! We truly enjoyed seeing such a diversity of marine mammals today.

We decided to head southwest on our journey, into Juan de Fuca Strait. We journeyed towards the Ecological Reserve, known as “Race Rocks”, a frequented area for pinnipeds like seals and Sea Lions to haul out, warm up and rest. We were able to glimpse Harbour seals as well as the massive Steller Sea Lions often seen at this location. Pinnipeds are an integral prey item for the Bigg’s (or transient), mammal-eating orcas in the Salish Sea. The fact that we witnessed a group of these whales (known as the T137’s) spread in and out of the reserve told us that they may have been foraging for prey!

The pod had diverged, leaving two animals each within Race Rocks and south of the area. Later, we witnessed them rejoin each other as they travelled east. A prominent whale that stood out from the group was the large male known as T137A, recognizable by his immense size and tall dorsal fin (with a lower nick). Male orca fins may measure up to six feet in height- a remarkable feature (see above image)!

We were fortunate to observe T137A as he surfaced several times, showing our guests the sheer size and grace of these powerful predators. When we reached home, we were thrilled by this experience, one that really represented the ecological balance of the Salish Sea.

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

March 9th- T137’s near Race Rocks

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