October 11 – Resident Orcas & Humpbacks

© Five Star Whale Watching/Andrew Lees. Image – J27 “Blackberry” with his distinct saddle patch and tall dorsal fin.

Resident Orcas & Humpback Whales

We saw Resident orcas and Humpbacks whales today!! It was a very exciting trip.

We headed southwest and kept going west in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and encountered multiple Resident orcas. They were heading west, likely in search of food.

Resident orcas are fish eating orcas. They are very picky eaters, and primarily eat Chinook salmon. There are only 76 remaining individuals in the endangered Southern Resident Orca population. It is always special to encounter them in the Salish Sea. On our trip today, we saw members of J-pod, one of the three pods in the population. One of the L-pod members, L87 “Onyx”, was also present with the pod. Some of the individuals we got to see were J27 “Blackberry”, J26 “Mike”, J16 “Slick”, J47 “Notch”, and  J35 “Tahlequah”. As the orcas swam past, we saw lots of foraging for fish; always a good sign when watching the Southern Residents.

After our incredible encounter with the J-pod, we turned around and encountered a number of Humpback whales that were feeding near Race Rocks. These Humpbacks make the most of their time here by going after schools of forage fish, such as: Pacific herring, Pacific pilchard, and Sand lance. It is always very fascinating to see the largest cetaceans we find here feeding on the smallest fish.

We went to see the pinnipeds that haul-out at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve after and we saw Harbour seals, and California and Steller sea lions. Their sounds filled the air as we made our way around the area. What an amazing day on the water!

To view more images from today’s trip, click on the following link.

October 11 – Resident Orcas & Humpbacks

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