Sightings Report July 5-11

If you’re a regular reader of mine (I know there’s a few of your out there!) you’ll remember last week I talked about how, this time of year “we settle into a lovely consistency. The search for whales is not frantic, but more of a casual stroll, with whales almost around every corner.” This held true for the first part of the week, but things got turned on their head a little today. More on that later.

Unlike last week, we saw a wider variety of resident killer whale groups this week, with members of all three pods making an appearance on Sunday, and a mixed bag throughout the rest of the week. As usual, we definitely saw a lot of J-pod, and one of the highlights of my week was encountering about half of the pod, the J2’s and the J19’s, quickly transiting the Victoria waterfront! Seeing them so close to home is a thrill, and seeing them move at high speeds is my favourite. The faster they go, the more of their body comes out of the water.

This week also brought what appeared to be the end of the world. A massive smoke plume drifted across southern Vancouver Island from the numerous forest fires burning in BC and Washington on July 5th.

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Sightings Report June 28 – July 4

Helllllllo summer!

Wow! What a week! Resident killer whales every day, doing the San Juan shuffle, and humpbacks and minke whales coming out of the woodwork left, right, and centre.

The days of multi-species trips are upon us! This is actually early in the season for such a high success rate involving multiple species. Usually we don’t start getting large numbers of humpbacks until August, but their early appearance this year is not bothering anyone.

June wrapped up with an official success rate of 96% and July is off to a whopping 100% success rate for whale sightings! Yes, I know, we’re only 4 days in to July, but it’s still exciting ok?

We are firmly in our peak season now with things picking up both on the water and in the city of Victoria. This week we celebrated Canada Day, and every weekend brings in cruise ships, exciting festivals, and events in the downtown core. We couldn’t be more excited to be right in the thick of it; we really work in the best place in the world!

As far as whales go, we’ve been seeing mostly J-pod in recent days,

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Sightings Report June 24-27

My apologies for doubling up on the sightings reports this week, there’s just too many good sightings to talk about!

The last few days have been all killer whales, all the time! We had several days of both residents AND transients, with a humpback or two thrown in for good measure. We’ve also seen whales every day, on every trip, since June 19th!

The westerly winds that gave us a little bit of trouble last week have died down significantly in favour of a heat wave! Normally people are shocked at how cold it can get on the water, but the last few days we’ve had many passengers relieved to escape the heat. Keep in mind though, the difference is extreme, so while you might feel crazy standing on the dock sweating in you sweater or windbreaker, you’ll be thankful for it once we get up to speed.

While there still hasn’t been a super pod reported, members of all three pods were seen regularly this week. We’ve also been seeing a lot a pod switching going on. We’ll be observing a pod, doing our best to ID as many animals as we can,

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Sightings Report June 14-23

As June winds down, it’s time start thinking about reflecting on what this month has been like, and as you can imagine, these things can be tough to sum up. This June has exceptional and exceptionally average in a few different ways.

What could I possibly mean by that? Well each month has a few characteristics that make it a special time of year. The wildlife are doing different things, conditions are variable, and even our passengers change as the summer rolls on.

June has been showing off everything it is famous for, with a few amazing treats thrown in. The westerly winds that typically dominate the forecasts this time of year have reared their ugly heads more than once. Fortunately we have those forecasts ahead of time and can predict at what times the conditions will be prohibitive to safe whale watching. We discourage passengers from booking at these times, meaning we rarely have to cancel due to conditions.

As an aside, remember to always follow the instructions of your booking agent when you receive conditions warnings or clothing recommendations. When we say it’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be COLD! Of course it wasn’t all bad,

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Sightings Report June 6-13

This week saw the return of L-pod, hopefully for the long term, which is our largest family in the Southern Resident Killer Whale community. Up until this point we had only seen J-pod, and two brief visits from L-pod last week. And there were members of K-pod mixed in there as well! We don’t have any confirmed incidents of a super pod (which is all members of all three pods) but we’re getting closer!

It’s really starting to feel like summer with all the families coming back! And the weather is cooperating as well, it’s been non-stop sunshine all week! We did have a few rough days of wicked westerly winds coming in, and one day where we had to cancel a couple of trips, but in general, it’s been whales and wonderful weather all week.

Our residents have been hanging out in some of their favourite spots, as well as branching out into some new areas. We made a big run to Rosario Strait to catch up with J-pod as well as a couple of humpbacks on June 8th. San Juan Island has been its usual hive of activity, and we’re always keeping our eyes to the west,

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Sightings Report May 31 – June 6

All killer whales, all week again!

June is off to a great start with both ecotypes of killer whales making strong appearances, and the odd humpback and Minke whale showing their smiling baleen faces.

The residents seem to have started to settle into their favourite summer spots. J-pod were often hanging out by San Juan Island, with the occasional foray up to Tsawwassen, and L-pod made their first appearance of the year on June 3rd!

As is typical with L-pod, they left soon after. Their first visit is always a short one, but no worries, J-pod stuck around, and there were plenty of transients hanging out as well. So there was never a shortage of killer whales, and, wouldn’t you know it, L-pod returned today!

We had so many whales around this week, that quite often our boats were all going different ways. We like to spread out, and have eyes on as many animals as possible, so sometimes trips leaving at the same time would speed off in opposite directions! Whether it was J’s at San Juan, or transients in Haro Strait, everyone was seeing whales!

Killer whales are almost always our priority,

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Sighting Report May 20-30

My apologies for a slight delay in the sightings report this week. Starting now, weekly sighting reports will be sent out on Saturday afternoons.

All I can say about this week is wow.

The killer whales dominated the waves, with almost equal reports of residents and transients, although there were a couple days spent with humpbacks as well. As usual, J-pod was the first to return this year, and we’ve been seeing them on and off all week. They’ve been enjoying some of their favourite spots, but also exploring some new territory.

In general, most days we’ve had to do a fair bit of driving to find whales each day, but our diligent search efforts have been rewarded immensely! As well, many trips will extend their time to make sure everyone gets a great look at whales; because of this, we recommend you don’t schedule anything immediately after your whale watching tour. Trips are a 3 hour minimum! Pay for extra parking and don’t book your flight right after, and we will go that extra mile (or 15!) to show you whales.

If there weren’t residents around, the transients were keen to make an appearance.

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Sightings Report May 12-19

The revolving door continued this week with transient orca and humpbacks dominating early on, and residents returning to the area for May long weekend!

The same four humpbacks we’ve been seeing lately were enjoying what has become a common feeding spot for them. They are liking the northern end of our range, occasionally meaning that we have to extend our trips. We are more than happy to do this and go the extra mile (or 15!) to make sure that not only do we see whales, but that everyone on board has a spectacular experience. The four humpbacks we’ve been observing the most recently are Big Mama, Windy, Split Fluke, annnnnnnd BCX1057. Is it just me or does that last one need a better name?

Transient killer whales really lived up to their name this week. They were EVERYWHERE! There were tons reported in Nanaimo (some even in the harbour!), which is beyond the range of all the Victoria based operators, but at least we knew they were around. And sure enough, four times this week we hung out with several large groups of transients! One of the largest groups we encountered was the T65A’s, and B’s,

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Sightings Report May 4-11

Another solid week in the Salish Sea, this week had a large percentage of single animal sightings; a humpback here, transient male orca there, grey whale over here.

Later in the week our favourite humpback, Big Mama, broke the trend and joined up with a lesser known animal, Windy. You might notice some whales have friendly names, while others we just refer to using seemingly random letters and numbers.

Here’s how it works: all the resident killer whales over 1 year old have names given to them by The Whale Museum, but they also have an official code, assigned by The Center for Whale Research. For example, the oldest female in J-pod (and possibly the world!) is called Granny, but officially referred to as J2 by researchers. The residents weren’t around this week, but our sightings didn’t suffer because of that.

Humpbacks also have official codes, but only a select few have colloquial names, either because they’re readily identifiable, or common to the area, or both. Big Mama is easily the most sighted humpback in these waters, and her code is BCY0324, while her friend Windy is relatively new to the area,

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Sightings Report April 25-May 3

Man, I swear all the cetaceans in the Salish Sea are in cahoots. It’s like they’re in a revolving door. We just keep seeing different things every day!

Residents, transients, humpbacks, residents, humpback, transients, Pacific white-sided dolphins (they showed up randomly on the 28th), transients, residents, humpback, transients. It’s nuts!

J-pod left the area on April 24th, but it was only for a little while, as the J16s returned on the 30th! Not sure where the rest of them are, so if you see them, let us know! These guys have been exploring some unusual areas recently, and not just enjoying their favourite haunts. This is exciting for us because we also get to explore new areas, some of which I’d never been to before! This is my 5th year in the industry, so it doesn’t happen a lot.

The transients have been doing their thing, eating everything in sight, including something that isn’t normally on the menu. We had a spectacular trip yesterday when we found some transient killer whales at Hein bank . . . harassing birds. This is not unheard of, young whales have been documented hunting/playing with birds before, but never for so long!

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