Really exceptional day on the water today.
Ocean Magic II was out at 9am today with crew Jeff, myself and Matt. We went up Haro Strait to investigate reports of transient killer whales at San Juan Island, and a humpback at Spieden Island. Our first stop took us to Spieden Island itself. There is a very dense collection of exotic animals on Spieden left over from an ill-fated hunting reserve that used to occupy the island. Our guests thoroughly enjoyed watching the Mouflon sheep scampering up the hillside. The two deer species, normally confined to the forested side of the island also came out to play, with passengers easily spotting both Sika deer and fallow deer, neither of which are native to this continent!
We kept the wildlife going with a few native species as well. Most notably, two stunning and massive bald eagles, two also massive Steller sea lions and a pile of dainty-by-comparison harbour seals. As we started working our way around the island, searching carefully for that reported humpback, we got more reports of boats on scene with humpbacks just south of Victoria.
So away we went, and in a short span of time picked up no less than six whales! It was these guys that we continued to watch throughout the day. Now, six humpbacks is pretty great. But what was so exceptional was their vicinity to each other. Humpbacks are not social whales, so to see that many in the same area was a treat. Every direction you looked, there was a blow. Our passengers were absolutely delighted!
Mark took out a 1pm zodiac today, and also spent a great deal of time with our largest cetacean. On Ocean Magic II’s 12:15pm trip we spent most of our time with a particularly cooperative pair of HB’s. They were feeding, which can makes surfaces erratic, but we found ours to be quite predictable.
After a quick detour to check out a passing US Navy aircraft carrier, a passenger tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the water. “Are those porpoise or dolphins or something?” As I leaned over to see where she was pointing I agreed; we could see was the splashing of porpoising animals. My exact words were “Ya! Cool, looks like we’ve got a few smaller animals over here guys. Have a look off the port side. Could be some porpoise, maybe those dolphins we’ve been seeing rece…ohmygod it’s killer whales!”
Transients! The T137A’s and T36A’s just south east of Race Rocks. They were probably the group reported up Haro Strait in the morning. Then, just when we though it couldn’t get any better a humpback surfaces WITH THE TRANSIENTS! Everyone on my deck freaked out (myself included). I just love seeing multiple species interactions. A quick stop at Race Rocks rounded out a beautiful afternoon.
Time is running out on our 2014 season. Just two and a half weeks left to have the experience of a lifetime!
By Jennifer Dickson