After a phenomenal 12:15 trip, we headed out with moderate expectations. We knew the whales were nearby, but we didn’t know how they would be behaving once we arrived. Young J46 had been quite playful on our last trip, but it was unlikely that she would still be acting so energeticly once we were back. When we arrived on scene at San Juan Island we quickly spotted members of J Pod, fish eating resident orcas, foraging along the coast. The large male, Blackberry, was in the area now and he energetically showed off for the crowd, majestically arching his back and repeatedly surfacing in the calm waters along the island. At one point the light shone through his spray at just the right angle to create a phenomenon known as a “rainblow”. We left Blackberry after a while and continued up the coastline where an even bigger (literally) surprise awaited us! A large humpback whale was lazily travelling up the coast. Humpbacks grow to around 45 feet long and travel through the waters around Vancouver Island as they migrate to and from Hawaii and Alaska. This one showed the underside of his flukes several times, which will help to identify him. The markings on the underside of a Humpback’s tail flukes are like human fingerprints, each one is unique. The same thing applies to the saddle patch markings on Orca whales and this is how we are able to track them and identify individual whales. On our way back to Victoria, we stopped in at Discovery Island as well as Trial Island, where an adult bald eagle was resting with a juvenile bald eagle. It was an awesome trip which will leave all of us – staff and visitors alike – with some great memories!
Most of the images on the blog are shot with a 400 mm & 600 mm telephoto lenses. Because of our restrictions around wildlife (100+ meters), we use powerful lenses to better share orca activity that passengers see on their trips. Keep in mind this also heavily compresses space between objects. We also crop images for best blog viewing.