Sighting Report May 20-30

My apologies for a slight delay in the sightings report this week. Starting now, weekly sighting reports will be sent out on Saturday afternoons.

All I can say about this week is wow.

The killer whales dominated the waves, with almost equal reports of residents and transients, although there were a couple days spent with humpbacks as well. As usual, J-pod was the first to return this year, and we’ve been seeing them on and off all week. They’ve been enjoying some of their favourite spots, but also exploring some new territory.

In general, most days we’ve had to do a fair bit of driving to find whales each day, but our diligent search efforts have been rewarded immensely! As well, many trips will extend their time to make sure everyone gets a great look at whales; because of this, we recommend you don’t schedule anything immediately after your whale watching tour. Trips are a 3 hour minimum! Pay for extra parking and don’t book your flight right after, and we will go that extra mile (or 15!) to show you whales.

If there weren’t residents around, the transients were keen to make an appearance.

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Sightings Report May 12-19

The revolving door continued this week with transient orca and humpbacks dominating early on, and residents returning to the area for May long weekend!

The same four humpbacks we’ve been seeing lately were enjoying what has become a common feeding spot for them. They are liking the northern end of our range, occasionally meaning that we have to extend our trips. We are more than happy to do this and go the extra mile (or 15!) to make sure that not only do we see whales, but that everyone on board has a spectacular experience. The four humpbacks we’ve been observing the most recently are Big Mama, Windy, Split Fluke, annnnnnnd BCX1057. Is it just me or does that last one need a better name?

Transient killer whales really lived up to their name this week. They were EVERYWHERE! There were tons reported in Nanaimo (some even in the harbour!), which is beyond the range of all the Victoria based operators, but at least we knew they were around. And sure enough, four times this week we hung out with several large groups of transients! One of the largest groups we encountered was the T65A’s, and B’s,

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Sightings Report May 4-11

Another solid week in the Salish Sea, this week had a large percentage of single animal sightings; a humpback here, transient male orca there, grey whale over here.

Later in the week our favourite humpback, Big Mama, broke the trend and joined up with a lesser known animal, Windy. You might notice some whales have friendly names, while others we just refer to using seemingly random letters and numbers.

Here’s how it works: all the resident killer whales over 1 year old have names given to them by The Whale Museum, but they also have an official code, assigned by The Center for Whale Research. For example, the oldest female in J-pod (and possibly the world!) is called Granny, but officially referred to as J2 by researchers. The residents weren’t around this week, but our sightings didn’t suffer because of that.

Humpbacks also have official codes, but only a select few have colloquial names, either because they’re readily identifiable, or common to the area, or both. Big Mama is easily the most sighted humpback in these waters, and her code is BCY0324, while her friend Windy is relatively new to the area,

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Sightings Report April 25-May 3

Man, I swear all the cetaceans in the Salish Sea are in cahoots. It’s like they’re in a revolving door. We just keep seeing different things every day!

Residents, transients, humpbacks, residents, humpback, transients, Pacific white-sided dolphins (they showed up randomly on the 28th), transients, residents, humpback, transients. It’s nuts!

J-pod left the area on April 24th, but it was only for a little while, as the J16s returned on the 30th! Not sure where the rest of them are, so if you see them, let us know! These guys have been exploring some unusual areas recently, and not just enjoying their favourite haunts. This is exciting for us because we also get to explore new areas, some of which I’d never been to before! This is my 5th year in the industry, so it doesn’t happen a lot.

The transients have been doing their thing, eating everything in sight, including something that isn’t normally on the menu. We had a spectacular trip yesterday when we found some transient killer whales at Hein bank . . . harassing birds. This is not unheard of, young whales have been documented hunting/playing with birds before, but never for so long!

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Sightings Report April 13-24

The last couple of weeks have been amazingly steady, especially for April, and things don’t show any signs of slowing down. Our current whale sighting success rate is between 86-92% depending if you look at individual trips, or days. Of course, recent sightings have almost nothing to do with future sightings because things can change in a matter of hours, but so far, so good! *knock on driftwood*

It’s been killer whales all over the place recently, with residents and transients apparently playing a tag team. If we don’t have residents, we have transients, and vice versa!

As usual, J-Pod was the first back of the southern residents, and they were sighted several days in a row, with all 3 new babies accounted for, as well as the pod’s oldest member Granny, or J2. We always look extra hard for Granny in the early season, just to make sure she’s survived another winter. She is estimated to be 103 years old after all!

A few notable transient families have been the T065A’s, T075B’s. T049A’s, T123’s as well as T103. And these guys have been doing what transients do best…eating pinnipeds. We have witnessed numerous seal foraging bouts,

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Sightings Report April 4-12

What a week it’s been!

Ocean Magic II is back on the water, and I’m back doing my First Mate thing! After a few months away seeing what marine life South East Asia has to offer (think manta rays, sea turtles, and more tropical fish than anyone could ever count) I am THRILLED to be back doing what I love for another summer. Nowhere has marine mammals like the Salish Sea!

It seems the whales missed me as well because we Ocean Magic II has not had a single no-whale trip since my return. I’m not saying they’re related… but I’m not saying they’re not 😉

The zodiacs have been having a great time on the water as well, and all in all the season opening week was more than we ever could have hoped for.

It’s been all about the killer whales recently with regular sightings of both transients and residents. On one day alone we had the following reports: T123’s, T049A’s, T036’s, T065A’s, and J16’s! Talk about more whales than we know what to do with!

Transient pods have been dazzling passengers with the occasional high energy display (stay tuned on Facebook for photos of our encounter from April 9th),

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Sightings Report Mar 24-Apr3

The last week and a half has been incredible. J-Pod has been in the area on and off, and there have been tons of Transient Killer Whales around as well!

The Ocean Magic II started off whale watching season “officially” on Wednesday, with a visit to see the T36 and T37s just south of Victoria. I always wonder if the first Ocean Magic II trip of the season is going to see whales, and this year certainly did not disappoint. Then yesterday, there were 3 separate groups of Transient Killer Whales that were spotted later in the afternoon. Big Mama, our favouriteHumpback Whale, has also maintained her presence recently, and was even spotted fromFriday Harbour last week!

The most exciting news, however, is that we were blessed with the birth of yet another J-Pod calf this week! Skipper Rush was out on Monday, and he returned to exclaim that he was certain he’d seen a newborn. And sure enough, he was right — The Centre for Whale Research confirmed it the next day, which means that FOUR calves have been born since New Years, and this is the third born into J-Pod. We are all keeping our fingers crossed that these calves will survive,

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Sightings Report

Spring break is a busy time for us, and it’s always so wonderful to see so many young people visiting the city with their families! These last few weeks have been delightful on the water (when the weather is being our friend, that is!). Spring whale watching is a blast because, with each sighting, you know you’re getting a little bit closer to summer… J-Pod even made an appearance last week with both new calves in tow.

Here is an update on what’s been happening:

We have had Transient Killer Whales around on and off, and you never quite know what you’re going to get with them. Transients are far more unpredictable than Resident Killer Whales due to the fact that their prey are intelligent (seals, sea lions, porpoise, etc), and can pick up on the presence of a killer whale much easier than a salmon can! Therefore, the whales must make themselves practically unnoticeable in order to be able to sneak up on their prey. This makes it extra special when we find them, because they are arguably the most inconspicuous of all the whales that we see (unless they’re hunting!!!). Seeing them around has been great fun.

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Sightings Report Feb 19 – Mar 10

“Be a Tourist In Your Own Hometown” was a huge success this year. In the past, the event only ran for one weekend, but this year it was extended to last 11 days. As one of the attractions who took part in this extension, we offered whale watching for $50 per person for the whole thing. And my goodness did it go over well!! With multiple trips a day, we were taking tons of people out onto the Salish Sea to look for our large marine mammal friends. Although we didn’t see them much, this is the first year that we have been able to offer our guests the NEW year round “No Whale Guarantee”, so all of those who didn’t get the chance to hang out with the whales this time around will be able to come back out with us again for free.

There has been a ton of wildlife around for the last few weeks, from porpoises to Lags (Pacific White Sided Dolphins), and of course the seals and the sea lions of Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. We have also had some incredible run-ins with different groups of Transient Killer Whales as well. On one particular trip,

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Sightings Summary February 13-18

I had to pinch myself a few times this week, because it could literally pass as April. Red Fish Blue Fish is open again, and the harbour has begun buzzing. Hotels are even selling out midweek! It’s crazy!

Here is what has happened over the last week:


On Friday, skipper Mark Malleson and his passengers set out in search of our friends, the marine mammals of the Salish Sea! The sun shone, and the sea was smooth. The whales decided not to attend the party that day, however, but our passengers did have a very interesting encounterwith a seal near Race Rocks Ecological Reserve.From far away, they could tell that the seal was trying to eat something of significant size. As Mark and his group got a bit closer, they discovered that the prey was an octopus! This wasn’t any meager octopus either – Mark estimates that it was about 80 lbs., and the deceased creature was almost larger than the seal’s entire body. Mark and his intrigued group of passengers watched the seal attempt to gulp down each tentacle,

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