© Five Star Whale Watching/Katie Smith. Image — Members of L-pod near San Juan Islands’ shoreline during our trip today.
Today we headed out east in search of whales and encountered a large group of orcas just southwest of San Juan Islands.
The orcas were swimming quite close to shore, likely chasing chinook salmon as they made their way back to their natal rivers and streams. Resident orcas are fish-eaters and chinook salmon makes up up to 80% of their diet. They use echo-location to detect their prey and impressively, they can distinguish between different species of salmon very well.
Sadly, Southern Residents’ prey populations have declined drastically due to dams, pollution, and overfishing.
Seeing them chasing salmon during our trip today was a good sign and we hope that they were successfully able to catch some fish. Our guests on board were thrilled to see this endangered population of orcas today. We even got to see some of their surface-active behaviours, such as: tail-slapping.
On our way back, we passed through Chain Islets — an ecological reserve and a marine bird sanctuary. There we spotted Harbour seals and seal pups, various gulls species and cormorants.
To view more images from today’s trip, click on the following link.