Sightings Report July 12-18

July 18, 2015

We had another gorgeous week this week, with killer whales and/or humpbacks stealing the scene. While it was “and” more than “or”, there was a day or two where the killer whales failed to make an appearance, but the humpbacks more than made up for their absence. 

We’ve been seeing a lot of “X” humpbacks recently. No, that doesn’t mean they’re mutants, it’s part of numbering system we use to identify individual humpbacks. X means their flukes are mostly black, or 0-20%. Y means they’re 20-60% white, and Z is mostly, or over 60% white. Big Mama, for example, is BCY0324, which means her flukes has a bit of white on them. X humpbacks are the hardest to identify, because, with less white, there are fewer obvious variations, they all just look black. As a result, much of the last week, we’ve just been reporting seeing A humpback, instead of an individual. 

However, one humpback was recently identified by skipper Mark Malleson as BCY0324’s 2014 calf! We’re always excited for calves to return to the area, and we’re thrilled to hear the report that Big Mama’s most recent calf is making the Salish Sea its summer home and thriving

The overcast and rainy days of last week were a thing of the past this week; the typical sunshine of July has returned! 

The killer whales were in and out a couple times this week, and returned to the area in full force today! We had a spectacular trip out west to catch up with a mix of J’s and K’s inbound from Sooke. Travelling formation is a stunning way to watch these whales, joined up in groups 5-15 strong, moving quickly and breathing hard, surfacing regularly and predictably. 

It’s one of my favourite behaviours. Yes, I know I say that a lot, but most of the things whales do are cool! Other cool things this week: the sea otter make a brief appearance at Secretary Island, three elephant seals returned to Race Rocks, and the sea lions are trickling back as well! The short lull at Race is ending and animals are returning to the area. There’s life everywhere! 

But don’t take my word for it, get out here! 

By Jennifer Dickson