Sightings Report Feb 19 – Mar 10

“Be a Tourist In Your Own Hometown” was a huge success this year. In the past, the event only ran for one weekend, but this year it was extended to last 11 days. As one of the attractions who took part in this extension, we offered whale watching for $50 per person for the whole thing. And my goodness did it go over well!! With multiple trips a day, we were taking tons of people out onto the Salish Sea to look for our large marine mammal friends. Although we didn’t see them much, this is the first year that we have been able to offer our guests the NEW year round “No Whale Guarantee”, so all of those who didn’t get the chance to hang out with the whales this time around will be able to come back out with us again for free.

There has been a ton of wildlife around for the last few weeks, from porpoises to Lags (Pacific White Sided Dolphins), and of course the seals and the sea lions of Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. We have also had some incredible run-ins with different groups of Transient Killer Whales as well. On one particular trip, Mark was with one group, had reports of another and went to find them, and then in the process found a third group!! We tend to see Transient Killer Whales all year long, as they do not have a specific migration pattern that they follow. Although they are more inconspicuous than the Resident Killer Whales, as they need to sneak up on their food as quietly as possible, we do still find them – often randomly – during every month of the year. You just have to have a good eye!

The most exciting news, however, is that we saw our favourite female Humpback Whale, otherwise known as Big Mama, ALL weekend!! She made northern Haro Strait her home for both Saturday and Sunday, doing a loop from Kelp Reef to Battleship Island, and skirting along the coast of San Juan Island. It is surprising to see her at this time of year, as we usually wouldn’t see her until April or May. This year is likely a little bit different because she had a calf with her for all of last year, and after returning the calf to the breeding grounds in the winter, she probably bee-lined it back up here to feed again. That being said, this is just our speculation, and we will never truly know the story!

Hopefully, this is the first of a steady number of Humpback sightings, leading us into late spring/early summer when they are around all the time.

P.S. 3 weeks to go until the Ocean Magic is back up and running! We’re getting very, very excited to have our flagship back in action.

-Claire Butterfield