© Five Star Whale Watching/ Katie Smith. Image — A large male Bigg’s orca whale swims on its back with pectoral fins in the air, seen near Albert Head this afternoon.
Family of Bigg’s Orcas
We had a spectacular time this afternoon witnessing an exciting family of orca whales! We began by heading southwest out of the Victoria harbour, into Juan de Fuca Strait.
At a point called Albert Head, we were able to witness these amazing orca whales. They were a family of Bigg’s, or transient, orcas. There were three larger individuals, and a much smaller calf! The family (known as the T38’s) consists of a mother and her offspring. Orcas live in matrilineal societies; a female’s sons and daughters will usually remain with their mother their entire lives.
There was some surface activity we were able to excitedly watch; a large male orca was swimming on his back with his pectoral fins directed straight into the air! Male orcas have larger pectoral fins than females, measuring at least several feet across when fully grown (see above image). Orcas have white underbellies and black backs to help them blend in with their surroundings. There was even a small baby (calf) in the group, which we were very fortunate to see surface several times.
Bigg’s orcas feed on other marine mammals, specifically Harbour seals, Sea Lions and porpoise. They are top predators and it is always incredible to see them in their natural habitat. We were fortunate to see a variety of individuals in this family, as they surfaced and swam together.
To view more images from today’s trip, click on the link below: