Sightings Report October 9

October 9, 2014

I’ve figured out why it’s been so foggy recently! The fog lends itself to a spooky atmosphere; obviously Mother Nature is just trying to get on board with Hallowe’en a little early. Props Mama N, well played.

While the fog can throw a wrench in our plans sometimes, we always go out because you just never know what it’s going to look like until you get out in it. Today we plunged into the thick of it while we were still in the harbour, but still managed to find some super cool stuff.

Mark was first out at 12pm, closely followed by Ocean Magic II with JeffmyselfRowan and Matt on board at 12:15pm.

We both followed reports south of Victoria where two humpbacks had been sighted earlier in the day. By the time we got there however the fog had become significantly thicker and our friends at the other whale watching companies were unable to hold on to these whales.

Mark decided to keep going west where he would be able to check out Race Rocks, a staple on any trip going south or west of Victoria, while Ocean Magic II decided to cut our losses and look for better visibility, which we found in Haro Strait.

Mark’s trip was chocked full of interesting species. He of course found all four pinniped species at Race Rocks (which I’m hoping my regular readers have memorized by now!), but for the sake of completeness we have: the Steller sea lionCalifornia sea lionNorthern elephant seal, and Pacific harbour seal. As well, Harry the one and only resident sea otter in the area was at his usual spot near Sooke!

But the highlight of the trip was a large group of very excited Dall’s porpoise. One of our few species that actually seek to engage with boats, Mark had them bow riding and playing in the wake for what felt like ages! And as a special treat he spotted another species of porpoise! Not a Dall’s, and not a harbour porpoise… What could it be? It was both! A hybrid!

Meanwhile Ocean Magic II decided to keep plowing north, planning to check and see if there were any sea lions on Speiden Island, or look for our own group of Dall’s porpoise. Instead we got reports of three humpbacks up near Orcas Island! We knew we’d be late if we went for it, so after a quick check with our passengers (and a quick call to reschedule a ferry trip) we were off! We caught up with Split FlukeSplit Fin, and Yogi! They were socializing at the surface, waving their pectoral fins around, slapping them repeatedly and fluking over and over without diving. It was a long run and a short look, but it was spectacular.

On the way back we also spotted Steller sea lions, harbour porpoise, Dall’s porpoise, harbour seals, and a bald eagle!

Tomorrow we’ve got rain forecast which should help keep the fog at bay. Only a few more weeks to get out on the big boat this season, better hurry!

By Jennifer Dickson