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, since we know that’s what people come to the west coast to see, and that’s what we’re famous for! If there are no orcas around (although we never stop looking for them!) we will begin our search for humpback or Minke whales. But this week we were treated to multiple trips that had BOTH killer whales, AND humpbacks or Minkes.

On June 4th, in addition to spotting residents, we were able to spend a little time with two humpbacks! It was apparent they were a mother and calf pair, and the mom was later identified as Heather! She’s a well-known female who visits this area almost as much as Big Mama. Thrilled to see her with a new calf!

The Minkes are slowly but surely making their presence known as well. Today was one of our best Minke sightings of the year. After getting our fill of L-pod, Ocean Magic II moseyed down to investigate a bait ball (big collection of fishing sea birds, great place to find Minkes) and sure enough, four (count ‘em FOUR!) Minkes popped up feeding!

To round things out, we had some very exciting looks at the sea otter that’s been living at Race Rocks. It’s not Harry, so we might have a new resident! Fingers crossed Harry comes back as well and our sea otter population doubles! We did manage to spot a few sea lions as well this week, but sightings will likely decrease until July as these guys are heading out to their breeding grounds to find some ladies!

June is going strong, but you’ve gotta get out here to see it for yourself. Nothing but sunshine in the forecast, what are you waiting for?!

By Jennifer Dickson