2020 Vancouver Whale Watching Season – The Highlights Part II
Our whale watching season is still going strong, thanks to the beautiful weather (despite the smoke) and the great whale sightings. We want to thank our guests and the community once again for the continued support this season. As fall is upon us, we’d like to continue to highlight our favourite memories from the 2020 whale watching season with blog two of our three-part blog series. If you didn’t read the first blog of the series, we shared our favourite humpback whale sightings of the summer. Read the blog here.
Now let’s kick off the second blog of the series which features our favourite orca sightings from the season.
Top Orca Sightings of the Season
We started the season a little later than usual, not able to open up fully until the end of June; however, what better month to do so in. June is Orca Awareness Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness of the endangered Southern Resident population of the Salish Sea. The South Resident killer whale population, comprised of three pods (J, K, and L), have a population of 73 as of December 31st, 2019. As a member of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, we’re part of a network of whale watching tour operators and ecotourism businesses that are committed to education, conservation, and responsible whale watching.
Orca in Boundary Bay
Our network is in constant contact, keeping each other updated on all whale sightings in the Pacific Northwest. So, when we set out for a day on the water, we usually have an idea of where the whales are that day, but how quickly we see them depends – sometimes it takes longer than other times; this wasn’t one of those days. On June 28th, we were lucky to spot an orca just as we were leaving White Rock.
Biggs Mom and Calf
The Southern Resident killer whales are home to the Salish Sea, but there are also Bigg’s or Transient Killer Whales that occupy our waters. The Bigg’s killer whales, named after the scientist, Dr. Michael Bigg, are transient killer whales that live, on the move, between Alaska and California. Bigg’s are the top predators of the sea, and hunt harbour seals and porpoises, stellar sea lions, as well as other whales such as Minkes, and young Grey and Humpback whales. There’s an estimated 400 that live along the coast of the Pacific Northwest.
On June 22nd, we saw a pod of Bigg’s Killer Whales, including this mom and calf, up the Swanson Channel in the Southern Gulf Islands.
Fun Fact – Bigg’s killer whales do not interbreed with resident orcas.
World Orca Day
July 14th is World Orca Day and we spent the day with Marine Naturalist, Grace Baer who took these amazing photos for us. Thank you, Grace!
Reminder to be Whale Wise
With more boats on the water in the summer, it’s always a good time to remind everyone of how to be Whale Wise.
We always make sure that we stay 200 ft away from whales at all times; however, there are times when they surprise us and pop up when we least expect it – times like this. We were stopped and shut down near Waldron Island, and this happened! They definitely surprised us! We let them pass before continuing on our way.
If you would like to learn more about how you can be Whale Wise, visit – https://www.bewhalewise.org/.
In August, we had a pod of Bigg’s killer whales travelling beside us near East Point, Saturna Island. They were very playful that day and even showed off with a breach near the end of the video.
If you like orca breaches, you’ll like this one. We spotted a pod of T18 transient killer whales in the Saanich Inlet. Check out this breach!
Mama Tahlequah and calf
This sighting wasn’t done by us, per se, but it’s too exciting not to mention. After we heard in July that there were some pregnancies among the Southern Resident Killer Whales, we were delighted to learn that Tahlequah or J35 was a mother. We are delighted for Tahlequah!
If you have a photo or video that you would like to share with us, we would love to see it! Email it to us or tag us!
Check back later for our third and final blog of the 2020 Vancouver Whale Watching Season three-part blog series.
See you on the water!