To quote myself on twitter: Humpback, orca, dolphins, orca, humpbacks, turkey vultures, harbour/elephant seals, California/Steller sea lions. In that order, on one trip.
Phew! Let me take you through it.
Ocean Magic II was first out at 12:15pm sporting an awesome crew of Captain Jeff, First Mate me, and Naturalists Matt and Rowan. We’d heard about some resident killer whales in Juan de Fuca Strait, which is a great spot this time of year because it’s right in humpback territory as well!
The first thing we found was a humpback. It was feeding, and moving very sporadically, and proved to be hard to keep track of. Later in the day four more humpbacks showed up to feed in this same area, and were watched by Mark, Rush and their zodiac passengers.
After leaving our slippery humpbacks, we went in search of orca and found the residents! Mostly J-pod (plus Onyx! L87) but K’s were there as well, spread out, and hanging out. They weren’t in a hurry to go anywhere, and were just milling in groups of two to five. We got a great opportunity to see many different whales from many different distances. With water as flat as it was today, there no way you couldn’t see these guys! My passengers were literally spotting them in all directions!
Then suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw several animals porpoising (basically traveling so fast they fly out of the water). My first thought was Dall’s porpoise (known for porpoising, duh) but lo and behold, there were three Pacific white-sided dolphins! They came for a quick bow ride before returning to whatever they were doing. We caught a few more looks at the killer whales before proceeding.
As soon as we left though, we found another humpback! And then another! Just enough time for a quick look at a pair feeding before heading for Race Rocks. The usual suspects were stinking up the joint: Harbour and Elephant seals, and Steller and California sea lions.
Also, side note, when we saw the white-sides and the orca they were in roughly the same area. But when Rush took his 2pm zodiac out they were right on top of each other. LITERALLY! The dolphins were zig-zagging around, in-between, and OVER the killer whales!!!
The final detour of the day involved something not in the water, but in the sky. We went to look at one of my favourite birds (and easily the most under-rated birds in the world), the turkey vulture! But not one. Not even 10 or 100. Hundreds upon hundreds of turkey vultures, locked in a swirling tornado high above the ground; spiraling up and up as they rode the thermals and prepare to cross the strait and begin their migration.
And so October gets off to an epic start.
By Jennifer Dickson