October 9 – Orcas & Humpbacks

© Five Star Whale Watching/Katie Smith. Image — One of the Transient orcas exhaling out of its single blowhole, which is a distinguishing feature of toothed whales.

Transient Orcas & Humpbacks

Another wonderful day out on the water and we encountered both orcas and humpbacks on our trip today!

We headed southwest towards Race Rocks Ecological Reserve for our trip. It was fairly calm and the visibility was good. After we passed Race Rocks, we encountered two Transient orcas just further southwest. The individuals we encountered were the T11s. This pod consists of two members: T11(mother), and T11A(son). The son’s ~6 feet tall dorsal fin is rather distinct and prominent. The two orcas were traveling westwards together.

We went back to the ecological reserve after and found a couple of Humpback whales feeding in the area. These gentle giants feed on krill(small, shrimp-like crustaceans) and small schooling fish, such as: Pacific herring, Pacific pilchard, and Sand lance. The fish generally concentrate around banks, which are underwater mountains. Large upwelling currents bring nutrient-rich waters to the surface at the banks, which attracts zooplankton, schooling fish, and then the large Humpbacks. We even saw the giants fluke!

We showed our guests one of the Transients’ feeding ground where we found multiple pinnipeds, including Harbour seals, California and Steller sea lions, and Northern elephant seals. We also spotted Ollie the sea otter in the kelp bed. He was floating on his back while keeping his hind flippers out of the water. He does that to prevent any unnecessary heat loss.

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

October 9 – Orcas & Humpbacks


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