Sightings Report October 6

October 6, 2014

Tricky conditions out there today. The water was gorgeous and flat calm. The air however….

We struggled with fog throughout the day. Fog is a fascinating and ever changing beast that really needs to be experienced to be appreciated. For what it’s worth we had very interesting fog today; all sorts of different kinds. There was thick fog, thin fog, patchy fog, high fog, and low fog.

Oh, and let’s not forget the whales! We had humpbacks today! Mark picked up the first pair at the end of his 9am zodiac trip just south of Race Rocks. These guys were thankfully in a patch of clear sky for a while.

That didn’t last long though as both fog and whales have a tendency to move and when visibility was lost, so were the whales.

When Ocean Magic II left the dock at 12:15 (with JeffmyselfMatt and Claire aboard), we plunged straight in to the thick of it in search of our largest cetacean. Those two whales were never reacquired, but we found a whole new humpback! Just off of Constance bank, south of Victoria. This whale was also in thick fog, but was doing very short dives and travelling very short distances, meaning she was easy to keep track of.

We think this animal was none other than Big Mama! Big Mama is a legendary humpback who was the first to return to this area after humpbacks were extirpated in the early 1900’s. She showed up out of the blue in 1999 and has returned to the area almost every year since, bringing other whales and her calves; essentially repopulating humpbacks in the Salish Sea!

While Big Mama was easy to stick with, she was a challenge to find. We had to use a wide variety of senses to locate this whale. Check out our Twitter feed or Facebook wall to find out how we finally tracked her down!

After getting our fill of whales, it was on to Race Rocks for, you guessed it, every pinniped species! California sea lions could be heard barking from the main rock, interspersed by the lighthouse’s fog signal. While behind, the low grumbling growls of Steller sea lions vibrated in your chest. Around the corner, adorable harbour seals, or rock sausages, plopped their plump bodies on the rocks for a rest. And finally Northern elephant seals, well you’re just gonna have to take my word that those brown lumps at the very top of the rock are members of the largest species of seal in the world. They don’t move much…

All in all another successful day on the water! We’ll see if this fog sticks around tomorrow.

By Jennifer Dickson