What a special day ~ Biggs (Tansient) Orcas and two Minke Whales!

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Passengers boarding in Alert Bay this morning enjoyed a special viewing of a minke whale while they sat quietly onboard the boat waiting for others to arrive, how good does it really get!  There was not a breath of wind this morning when we left the dock in Alder Bay, it was perfect weather to spot whales (blows and fins) miles away. There was a Biggs (Transient) Orca sighting reported at Blackney Passage earlier this morning and as I planted my orca beans (runner bean seeds that look like little orcas), I was hopeful we’d encounter them today.
It was not too long into the trip that a speedy orca fin was spotted while scanning the area out through Weynton Passage, they were at the Stephenson Islands and moving quickly in the heavy ebbing current. Taking long breathes they disappeared from sight having passed through a channel of the Pearse Island group. We carried on in the direction that we had last caught a glimpse of them and were delighted when they suddenly surfaced nearby giving us all some exceptional viewing. There were six orcas in total and passing by numerous hauled out harbour seals on rocky outcrops and a pair of harbour porpoises, it appeared that they were not in ‘hunting mode’, carrying on their way instead, they slowed their pace giving us all a chance to view at a distance, their dive sequence. Jared (DFO) identified them as the T60’s (T60 with her offspring ~ T60C/14 years, T60D/11 years, T60E/7 years, T60F/3 years)  a family of 5 individuals, with T2B/36 years swimming with them at times close, and sometimes just behind; T2B is of a similar age to T60.
We watched as a minke whale came very close to the pod of orcas, there appeared some brief underwater ‘swirling of water’ and a large splash was seen a distance away, quite possibly the minke whale who had sped off out of the area while the orcas continued on their way heading steadily west passing Sointula on their way. We turned back and another minke whale (identified by Jared/DFO as Rapid) was sighted in the distance where rhinoceros auklets and common murres had gathered and bald eagles and gulls as well right in front of Alert Bay. The auklets and murres were feeding from ‘below the water and gulls and eagles from above’ all on a bait ball that the diving seabirds had formed by their diving expertise! We even got a whiff of that potent oily breath of the minke whale! It was a very exciting and special day to see the Biggs Orcas as well as the  Minke Whales (there were three in total in the area today: Rapid, Surf and likely Eclipse). Also seen: dall’s porpoises, harbour seals++, marbled murrelets, pigeon guillemots, black oyster catchers, cassin’s auklets, belted kingfishers, tree swallows and gull species.
Today’s penned comments: Thank you for the beautiful experience! It was simply incredible to see the orcas this ‘up-close!’ A boating trip to remember! All the best to you and hopefully till next time! Love ~ Maika & Leon, Netherlands
Thank you for such a fantastic trip. What a beautiful day and we were so lucky to see the orcas up close. What an amazing experience and we will certainly be recommending this tour to our family and friends in England. ~ Sophie & Kym, England
Wow, so much to see, special trip. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and lovely Devonshire Tea, cream and scones. Lovely morning ~ Barb and Rick
Blog today by Sarah
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