We started our trip out today with reports of transient killer whales just off the coast of Victoria. Feeling determined and adventurous, we started out south, hoping to spot them as they moved away from Discovery Island. We braved a particularly choppy voyage down Haro Strait before breaking through to glass-calm seas at the junction of Haro Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
As soon as we had spotted some distant dorsal fins cutting through the water, a juvenile bald eagle flew right over our bow, showing off its impressive 6-foot wingspan. We continued forward and oriented ourselves east to match the killer whales’ direction of travel. We quickly identified them as two adult males, and adult female, and a young calf. We cruised alongside them as they moved away from Discovery Island and towards San Juan Island.
As always, we are required by Canadian law to stay 100 meters away from any marine mammal, and similarly in the US, 100 yards from a marine mammal. We always try to keep a more generous distance than necessary both out of respect for the whales and so that our passengers get an authentic experience and can fully grasp what the behavior of wild killer whales looks like.
We observed this family of four split off into a mother-calf duo and an adult male duo, switch positions completely, then rejoin just southwest of San Juan Island. We got our last beautiful looks at them just as the rain started to come down. It was truly a stereotypical Pacific Northwest day!
Naturalist Sarah C.