Unbelievable viewing of Northern Resident Orcas: A23’s and A25’s

Where to begin writing about such an amazing day of viewing!  We began our tour with the knowledge that Orcas had been heard earlier this morning in the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve and that they were A60-3-300713 A60-5-300713 A60-1-300713 IMG_0664 IMG_0665 IMG_0670 IMG_3859 IMG_0688 300713-2 IMG_0697 300713-eagles Eaglesx4heading to the west along the Vancouver Island shoreline.  It was in heavy fog that we made our way down Johnstone Strait and near Blinkhorn,  a lone Orca (A60), was out in the lead, slipping by us in the fog,his high dorsal fin appearing as a ghostly form and his breath clearly audible and far-reaching in the fog. With our engine off and the boat drifting, we listened for blows and could hear more blows behind us coming our way and soon the A43’s (A23’s) came into view with the A25’s close behind. We all enjoyed observing as the A43’s foraged near the boat, passing back and forth and lunging rapidly after fish as well, we listened to some beautiful A-Clan calls and intense close sounding echolocation near our hydrophone. The fog was dense and while losing the Orcas at times, we would listen for their blows and move towards the sound. As the tour progressed and the fog slowly dissipated around us, children onboard explained to their mother that they were experiencing a mystical Harry Potter “fog” moment just like in one of the books that they were reading with a fog and forest sequence but then more magic was to follow! As we sat waiting for the Orcas to appear again and while listening for blows of them feeding nearby, A60 suddenly appeared out of the fog and began feeding around our boat, passing back and forth with momentum while lunging after fish.  One of our passengers observed as two large Chinook Salmon swam speedily towards the hull of our boat with A60 swimming directly behind them, it was incredulous, the images of A60 so close to us, using the hull of our boat to chase salmon against, were full and vivid in the minds of all of us. It was a magical and awesome experience to partake in at close range and came as a total surprise while the boat sat drifting with the engine off.  As if by magic a “fog-bow” appeared on the water as a halo arching outwards from the stainless steel railings on the boat and with the sun shining bright, for an instant only, an orca was seen swimming through it and captured on camera by one very happy passenger!  Other sighting today included dall’s porpoises, rhinoceros auklets, bald eagles++ in the trees and fishing on a herring ball, harbour seals, belted kingfishers and gulls ++.

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