Orcas+++ and Humpback Whales with breathtaking and brilliant viewing!

IMG_0871 IMG_0888 IMG_0906 IMG_0929 IMG_0942 IMG_0944 IMG_0963 IMG_0986 IMG_0987 IMG_1010 IMG_1029 IMG_1030 IMG_1035Wow, what a day we had, breathtaking and brilliant in every sense! Heading out this morning, fog was still present but with some clearing giving us far more visibility as compared to yesterday morning. Orcas had again been reported initially off Critical Point (Robson Bight Ecological Reserve) and then travelling west towards Cracroft Point in heavy fog. We headed east passing Weynton Passage where we sighted our first Humpback Whale that was feeding on herring in Johnstone Strait close to Weynton Island, along with numerous Gulls and Common Murres also feeding on herring.  We carried on and at the bottom of Hanson Island we cut our engine and listened for blows and vocalizations of Orcas. We could clearly hear the unmistakeable blow of a Humpback Whale and also its trumpeting sound, we could also vaguely see Pacific White-sided Dolphins swimming, they were just on the edge of the fog-line in Blackney Passage in pursuit of Orcas whose blows we could hear ahead of them. Having turned into Blackney Passage the Orcas were quickly making their way against the flooding current in Blackfish Sound, some taking the lesser current side making their way towards Parsons Light and the back-eddy beyond, others taking the centre of the Sound and still more orcas were favouring the Hanson Island shoreline.  As they made their way further west in the Sound, the current slackened and so did the pace of the orcas who had been travelling nonstop, fast and steady through the current. The fog cleared further, Blackfish Sound opened up and we could see across the Sound entirely where orcas were seen spread across on both sides, and in the centre, Pacific White-sided Dolphins were also seen amongst them charging around! We could make out the A30’s, and several more groups including some of the I15’s (I27’s) with whom A39 was trailing behind and was then seen charging forward in the direction of the rest of his family (A30’s). It was simply amazing to look upon the orcas, so spread out and all still moving west. As we followed in the direction of the A30’s who were favouring the Swanson Island side of the Sound where they rested briefly off Flower Island, we became aware of a male dorsal fin that was not of the A30’s family or the I15’s and remained a mystery at that point. It was a busy place to be today, with so much to see and enjoy and with our hydrophone deployed we listened to initially, vocalizations of the I15’s and then the odd A-Clan call of the A30’s, we also heard some pinging calls! It was quite surreal and we all kept exclaiming how amazing it truly was to see them so spread out, some foraging while others travelled further west, the A30’s began to forage while others continued ahead, swimming close along the Swanson Island shoreline and others came more slowly behind and they were also foraging. Finally, the mystery male swam by us parallel, enabling us to photograph him and back home we have now identified on our computer screen that this orca was I62 from the I31 Matriline. We cannot be sure if all of the I31’s were present (there were many Orcas seen today) but we believe the I33’s (his mother I33 ) were present today along with the A30’s and I15’s. The pinging calls we heard we also believe were vocalizations belonging to the I31 Matriline. Numerous Humpback Whales were in the area today and on our way home we encountered two more in Blackfish Sound and another as we exited Weynton Passage on our way home bringing our count to five including the one we heard off Cracroft Point. Also seen: Harbour Seals, Dall’s Porpoises, Stellar Sea Lions, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Belted Kingfishers and Gulls++

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