A big day and group of Bigg's Transient Orcas!

A big day and group of Bigg's Transient Orcas!

The overcast grey sky began fading early this morning, and by noon, fluffy white clouds could be seen moving further apart making way for the sun to shine and a beautiful blue sky appear, and that was just as we headed out on our tour this afternoon.

We were very fortunate in our timing as we were in sight of Biggs Transient Orcas shortly after leaving Alder Bay. The large group, some 20+ Orcas were in Bauza Cove and we observed them hunting Dall's porpoises (and Harbour seals), having corralled a small group of porpoises in the cove. It was an impressive sight to see, but at times difficult to watch the hunt in progress, primarily when the smaller black and white porpoises and seals were greatly outnumbered by so many orcas far bigger than themselves.

The hunting skill of the orcas, the speed at which they travelled and momentum gathered at short distance and the height that their bodies reached on a breach out of the water was unbelievable and brought to mind the term Bigg's Killer Whales which is their scientific name. The large group seen today is a rare sight as they are generally found in small groups of 3-8 individuals, with the mature daughters splitting from their mothers with their offspring. Those in the group today included the T101’s and T102’s.

Transients pass through our area year-round, but unlike Resident Orcas, they feed on marine mammals, i.e., Harbour seals, Dall's porpoises, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Stellar sea lions and at times they also hunt seabirds and small baleen whales and their population is widely distributed along the coast of the Pacific NW.

After leaving the orcas, we travelled into Blackfish Sound and enjoyed viewing four Humpback whales foraging through bait balls amongst an array of seabirds that included Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres and gulls who were also feeding on the small schooling fish.

It was an afternoon of tremendous energy and breathtaking scenic beauty. The vulnerability and timing of life (and death) in the wild taught everyone today just how precious life is for all living species and how quickly lives are changed.

Hayley ShephardComment