A quick blog to update our guests on whale sightings. We've been out on the water quite a bit recently and have seen whales 3 of the last 4 trips, which is a very good streak in April, especially considering our Resident Killer Whales have not been around in over a month. This means our sightings have been with Transient Killer Whales. For those new to the distinction between the two types: Our Resident Killer Whales primarily eat salmon, while Transient Killer Whales prey on warm blooded animals such as seals, sea lions, and porpoise. Transients have also made Killer Whales famous in recent documentaries when filmed preying on larger Baileen whales such as Grays and Humpbacks.
So back to our trip yesterday. We observed the largest group of Transients I have ever seen! This same group has been spotted just out of range of our tour for a couple days, but fortunately other whales have been closer.
An early report indicated the Transient Orcas were near East Point on Saturna Island (one of the Canadian Gulf Islands Northeast of San Juan Island). East Point on Saturna is an interesting area where multiple large waterways come together (Boundary Pass, Strait of Georgia, and Rosario Strait) creating giant upwelling currents and tidal rips. The amount of life in the area was impressive with hundreds of Bonaparte gulls, Harbor Seals, Harbor Porpoise, and Northern Sea Lions. The amount of marine life in the area is what must have attracted the transients to this geographic area, known for Transient Killer Whale Sightings.
We arrived around 2:00pm with only one other whale watch vessel present, and observed the groups of primarily females and calves swimming up and down the shoreline of Tumbo Island. There was a great deal of lob tailing, half breaching, and other surface behaviors usually indicated both play and hunting. We observed for about a half hour, and left the whales exactly where we first encountered them. I'm going to be looking at my photos today to confirm the id's of the whales observed, and will follow up later today to let people know what whales were observed.