© Five Star Whale Watching/Andrew Lees. Image — A Southern Resident orca whale breaches just off Victoria this morning.
SRKW Superpod and Humpback
We had a fantastic trip this morning, seeing a diversity of active wildlife. We were fortunate to encounter numerous species of unique marine mammals.
We did not have to travel far this morning to encounter our first whale species. Just off of Victoria, we were able to witness a spectacular sight; a superpod of orca whales! This group of whales consisted of the three smaller pods that make up the Southern Resident Killer Whale community (SRKW’s); J, K and L. These orcas are characterized by their diet of Chinook salmon, and depend on this food resource.
Orcas live in matrilineal societies dominated by mature females. The group was exciting to watch, as we were able to see breaches, tail slaps and synchronized surfacing behaviour (see above image). It is possible that whales use these surface behaviours as a form of communication. The adult males were also clearly identified by their towering dorsal fins; these may reach up to six feet in height!
It was an amazing encounter to see these orca pods interact with each other in their natural habitat. Our trip was not over yet however, and we continued on our search for more animals.
While on the water, we were lucky to spot another species of whale. This was a Humpback Whale, which is an animal that feeds on very small animals unlike the orcas we had seen. Humpback Whales prefer feeding on small schooling fish or krill, using their hair-like baleen structures to to filter out their food. These whales reach enormous sizes (49-60 feet long), despite their small prey!
Before reaching home, we made a stop at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. Here, we witnessed Sea Lions, which are pinnipeds and thus marine mammals.
We had an amazing time seeing so many animals this morning in the beautiful Salish Sea, and were thrilled with all of the diversity of species! We headed back to Victoria with some memorable sights.
To view more images from today’s trip, click on the link below: