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. Photos from the day looked like they were shot in the 19th century as the entire world turned sepia toned. The sun was almost completely blacked out, and everything looked brown. Check out a passenger’s photo here, and stay tuned on our Facebook page for photos of the dramatic day.

Ever since the 5th, the weather has been unusual, with unseasonably early fog, cloud cover, and rain (we are thrilled about the rain! We’ve needed it since May, see note on forest fires above!) We’ve also been dealing with several windy days, but none bad enough to cancel trips. Passengers are always warned when we know it’s going to be rough, and given the option to re-book, but we find more people enjoy the big waves than shy away from them!

Today was a bit of an anomaly on the water. Most of the members of K and L pods left the area in previous days, and the members of J-pod that remained were determined to go to Vancouver today. Our morning boats were fortunate enough to catch up with them, but they were too far for our afternoon boats to check out. So instead we turned towards the eerily calm Strait of Juan de Fuca. Where, just 3 days ago, we’d been battling 4 foots waves, we found ourselves in mirror calm water. Perfect conditions to finding humpbacks.

And find them we did! We had as many as seven at one point! Heather and her calf, Split Fluke, Split Fin, and several others were foraging and travelling together. They even treated us to two breaches on our mid-day departures trip! I managed to maintain my composure a little better this time (last time I saw a humpback breach I may have freaked out a little. My passengers were wildly entertained) but still got absolutely giddy about an animal that size throwing themselves out of the water. Trust me, it never gets old.

Come see for yourself! We’ve got Ocean Magic coming down from Vancouver every day, Ocean Magic II three times a day in Victoria, the Whales & Garden’s tour, and more zodiacs than we can count. There’s never been a better time to get on the water. What are you waiting for?

By Jennifer Dickson