Sightings Report August 7

Wow. Just…

Wow.

It’s inconvenient when those responsible for writing sightings reports are rendered speechless, but man.

Wow!

Alright, alright, I’ll tell you what happened! It’s a long one, but worth it!

We started out with a long trip up to East Point on Saturna Island to catch up with the residents. J’s and K’s returned this morning and boogied up Haro Strait. They kept going and will probably spend the night in Vancouver.

When Claire, Rowan, Captain Scott and I (plus the zodiacs!) arrived, we came across a spectacular site. It was a long run to get up to these guys, but the entire trip back everybody was raving about how absolutely worth it it was. We found over 20 whales, grouped tight together, swimming quickly through the current, tail-slapping, fin slapping, and all in all having a great time socializing! It reminded me of that incredible video of Southern Residents swimming past Galiano Island that when viral last August! Check out the link to our post here. Except we saw even more activity! Cartwheels and breaches too.

The Vancouver crew (Anthony, Brittany, and Sharon) and their passengers on the Ultimate Day Tour, were equally awed by the experience, and zodiac skippers Mark, Matt W., Bo, Torin, Rhonda, Matt E., and Tom split up 13 zodiac trips throughout the day and brought back boatloads of happy passengers.

Little did we know, it was going to get better. The last trips of the day found another group of residents, what Captain Scott called “the left overs,” as they stuck around southern San Juan instead of going north with the others. These guys also put on a show, with Naturalist Claire reporting that they were welcomed to the scene with 2 breaches, and spent lots of time with an impressive male named Cappuccino.

But it was the transients that stole the show on the midday trips. We manage to see these mammal hunting killer whales hunting occasionally, but typical foraging behaviour is usually indicated by rapid changes in direction, bursts of speed, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, the disappearance of a seal and the appearance of a tell-tale oil-slick.

Today was something entirely different. In what has been described as not the trip of a week, month, or year, but the trip of A LIFETIME, our boats witnessed 7 transient killer whales (the T36A’s and the T65A’s) attack a harbour porpoise in the most dramatic fashion. They threw it high in to the air, multiple times, all the while continuously breaching themselves!

Of course this sort of experience is not for everyone; it can be difficult to witness an animal lose their life. But we see it as the necessary part of the circle of life that it is, and consider ourselves extremely fortunate to be able to witness such a powerful display.

I don’t have a cute way to wrap this one up. My mind is blown.