To say we were Excited about the return of the Resident killer whales would be a complete understatement. Over the past two weeks we have had very spotty Transient Orca sightings, a humpback whale, an occasional Gray whale and several Minke whales (which can be tough to watch). For both Mika (biologist) and myself the last time we have seen J pod was back in October–we were pumped! We also had a report of Transients. Off we went, first to the 4 transient killer whales who we were able to identify as the T 137′s: a mother and three offspring (children). The young one (probably 1 year old) was feeling rather rambunctious dictating it seemed where they were traveling…which was no where fast. Very playful! We chose to go straight to the Sooke bluffs first because we knew there weren’t any other boats on scene: a private show. Then we headed back towards Victoria making several stops to engage with a bald eagle, and its nest, along with Race Rocks: seals, sea lions and elephant seals! The 151 year old lighthouse looked impressive in the dramatic colours of a slightly over cast sky. J pod was off in the distance only but 1 1/2 miles away…perfect! They were in a wondrous resting pattern, breathing slowly and sometimes in a full synchronous rhythm. After a short while (about 30 minutes) the few boats that were on scene left for home except for Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research–who has been looking over these whales for nearly 40 years. He was dawning a yellow research flag which meant he was photographing them one be one as he does every year. It is due to his efforts we are able to compile an accurate population record of these southern resident killer whales. Just as if the whales new he was there one of them spy-hopped right beside his boat: almost as if to say hi…there is a very special relationship between Ken and these whales—they are family! At that moment as if to the rest of the group that one whale said–GO! the breaching began, all were putting on quite an aerial show which lasted for a very long time. WOW! what a way to say hi to J pod after quite some time—it was a relief to see them again–they all looked great!
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