June is off to a killer start (pun intended)!
As the unofficial start to our peak season, everyone has high expectations for the beginning of June, and 2016 did not disappoint.
The steady increase of transient orca over the past years has not abated; sightings that used to feel like a rare treat, or an unpredictable bonus, are rapidly becoming a staple in our shoulder seasons. Unsurprisingly, given their name, transient orca are constantly moving, rarely staying in one place for more than a few days, but as their numbers rise, when one family leaves an area, more often than not it seems, another one appears!
In addition to T’s, we have had to joy of hosting the first humpbacks of the season. While a rare and stunning sighting keeps us guessing in the winter months, the humpbacks don’t typically arrive in large numbers until summer is in full swing. This year however they are already making their presence known in the spring, and we’re not complaining. Big Mama, our famous humpback who started the Humpback Comeback, is back, with yet another baby! Today was particularly crazy with an INSANE 20 humpbacks sighted this morning!!!
Finally, the stars of the show, our resident orca have returned! They teased us a few times in April and May, poking their heads in and out of the strait, on the hunt for salmon. But with two large groups arriving over the last week or so, we are hopeful they are here to stay! The name resident orca is always a bit confusing, and may be misleading to some. These whales are not here year-round, but simply follow their food. When their favourite meal, Chinook salmon, become more concentrated near shore, the whales return and feast; when the salmon move offshore in the winter, the whales spread as far north as Haida Gwaii and as far south as Monterey Bay, California! In the summer, most of their time is spent between Victoria and Vancouver.
The whales have been more consistent than our weather this week, with everything from sunshine and flat calm conditions to rain and big seas, even thundershowers forecast for this evening! Nothing that’s kept us off the water yet though.
Here’s hoping the whales stay put and the seas stay calm. But there’s only one way to make sure you see whales: you’ve gotta get out here! Nature rewards those who venture out.
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By Jennifer Dickson
First Mate, Ocean Magic II