© Five Star Whale Watching/Katie Smith. Image — A Humpback Whale tail-flukes south of Victoria this morning.
Humpback Whales and Orcas
We had a fantastic evening encountering two equally magnificent species! This morning trip was a fantastic opportunity to witness the unique diversity of the Salish Sea.
The first of two whale species we saw this morning, south of Victoria, was the Humpback Whale. These are massive baleen whales, measuring between 49-60 feet. Surprisingly, these whales feed on some of the smallest creatures in the Salish Sea, i.e. small, schooling fish and krill. These whales have travelled to the Salish Sea’s productive waters for this one reason- to feed.
The Humpback Whale gave us a spectacular sight as it surfaced and took dives, lifting its massive pair of flukes clear above the surface of the water. These flukes are also massive, ranging roughly between 15-18 feet! It is always a special sight to see a whale’s fluke, as it is as unique to the whale as a fingerprint.
After this special encounter, we continued our search for animals. We then were able to encounter Orca whales! This second species of whale is very different from the Humpback Whale, and equally as exciting. Orcas are toothed whales, and do not have baleen (plates with hair-like bristles attached to the jaw) like the Humpback. They are top predators, and we were able to spot these striking individuals as their fins rose above the surface of the water.
There was both an adult male as well as a female present, which we were able to conclude from the difference in fin size. Adult males have tall, straight fins whereas females have shorter, curved fins. Orcas, also known as Killer Whales, remain with their families their entire lives; they have a very important social structure. It was remarkable to hear and see these fascinating animals as they surfaced.
We were fortunate today to see two amazing whale species that help make up the unique web of the Salish Sea. We headed home after a truly amazing morning!
To view more images from today’s trip, click on the link below: