© Five Star Whale Watching/Katie Smith. Image — A serene moment when the mother-son pair, the T11s, were traveling together in the sunlit waters of the Salish Sea during our trip today.
Humpback Whales & Transient Killer Whales
We had an amazing trip today! We got to see both Humpback whales and Transient Killer whales. It was a fantastic day on the water.
Our first encounter of the day consisted of two Transient Killer whales. They were the T11s — a prominent mother-son pair that has been visiting the Salish Sea frequently this year. We saw them swimming just south of Victoria. These two are always seen together, which is not a coincidence at all. Killer whales have complex social bonds in their matrilineal society where offsprings tend to stay with their mothers for their whole lives.
T11A, the 38 year old son, travels and hunts with his mother, T11. Not only that, it was his mother who first taught him how to hunt when he was little. He is easily identifiable because of his uniquely curved 6-feet tall dorsal fin that is much taller than his mother’s ~3 feet tall fin. T11A is also one of the largest Transient Killer whale males that we see in the Salish Sea.
After spending quality time with the T11s, we headed southwest and encountered Humpback whales. They are much different than the Transient Killer whales. Humpbacks are baleen whales — in fact, they are the largest baleen whales that we see in our waters –, and Killer whales are toothed whales. Though they are much larger than the Killer whales, they eat the smallest prey. We saw their massive tail flukes, which were as wide as a juvenile Killer whale is long. Just magnificent!
Towards the end of our trip, we stopped at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve to show our guests what the T11s could have hunted. Transient Killer whales eat Harbour seals, sea lions, and though it requires more effort and coordination, they often also hunt other whales. At Race Rocks today we even saw a Bald Eagle perched on the highest rock in the area.
To view more images from the trip today, click on the following link.