© Five Star Whale Watching/ Katie Smith. Image — A large male orca whale that belongs to the T11 family surfaces near Esquimalt harbour this afternoon.
This afternoon was a remarkable and unusual encounter seeing an amazing whale species! Today we didn’t have to travel far to find whales, and were fortunate with such an encounter.
We encountered this family of orca whales (a mother and son known as the T11’s) near Esquimalt. The whales had curiously swam all the way into the harbour (not a common circumstance)! The whales appeared to be chasing prey, as they were diving and circling around nearby vessels and docks. These whales are Bigg’s orcas, which means they feed on marine mammals like Harbour seals, Sea Lions and porpoise.
It is likely that one of their prey items like a Harbour seal, had travelled into the harbour. It is a very unique occurrence to see these top predators inside the harbour itself! This family was composed of a mother and son whale. Male orcas can reach sizes of over 30 feet, with dorsal fins reaching up to six feet high. We were able to see the immense size of this male!
Orca whales live in matrilineal groups, and offspring will most often remain with their mothers their entire lives. We listened to these whales breathe and watched them as they swam around the area, surfacing and swimming together.
It is always remarkable to see these top predators in the wild, and it was a memorable experience for certain! We even managed to get a glimpse of a majestic local bird species, a Great Blue Heron, as it flew above us.
We had a fantastic day witnessing these two whales together, and so close to Victoria! It was definitely a sight to remember.
To view more images from today’s trip, click on the link below: