Thursday, March 24, 2016

2015 Season Highlights

2015 Season Highlights!

Oct 27th - Final trip of the 2015 Season!

Oct 27th – Final trip of the 2015 Season!

Humpback Whales off Victoria
Final trip of the 2015 season with Humpbacks
Orcas off Victoria
Final trip of the 2015 season with Orcas
Today was our final trip of the 2015 season and what an incredible trip it was. We had Resident Orcas south of Constance Bank, a Minke Whale and multiple Humpbacks, including “Split Fin”! When we first left the Harbour this afternoon we had heard that one boat had found a Humpback Whale near Race Rocks but we wanted to do a search of the area for Orcas and that search paid off :) Just near Constance Bank we found a large group  of Resident Orcas including K35 “Sonata” and L87 “Onyx” among many others.  While we watching the Orcas a Minke Whale popped up in the middle of them but heading west in the opposite direction of the Resident Orcas.
After watching the Orcas for a while longer we started to make our way west towards Race Rocks and started to encounter multiple Humpback Whales :)  We then went to Race Rocks to check out the noisy & smelly Sea Lions plus Elephant & Harbor Seals one last time.
On our way home we encountered two more Humpbacks including our old favourite “Split Fin”. How fitting that our final glimpse of a Whale for the 2015 season would be such a popular Whale for the crew and we think our passengers were all happy as well!
We could not have asked for a better trip to finish the incredible 2015 Whale Watching season :) Thank you to all our guests for choosing Five Star Whale Watching and for making this one of the best seasons ever!

Oct 24th - Resident Orcas

Oct 24th – Resident Orcas including J53!

Victoria Whale Watching
Resident Orcas including J53
J53 New baby Orca
Resident Orcas including J53
Today we had an amazing encounter with Resident Orcas including J53, the new baby Orca :) J53 is the sixth new baby Orca born since the end of Dec 2014. This baby boom is so exciting for all of us that care about the future of the SRKW’s. J53’s mother is believe to be J17 “Princess Angeline” who was born in 1977. We hope that all these new babies make it past their first birthday, that is critical to their chances of survival. Apart from J53, we encountered members of all 3 pods stretching across Haro Strait from the west side of San Juan Island to near Discovery Island forming a Superpod :) We got to see several breaches, tail slaps, pectoral waves and spy hops as it seemed the Orcas were also happy to see the new baby!
In order to protect the SRKW’s it is essential that we protect their main food, Chinook Salmon. Please check out the Center for Whale Research website at the following link ; Center for Whale Research  and find out how you can help with Salmon restoration and also by becoming a member. You can also adopt a SRKW by either visiting the Whale Museum or Vancouver Aquarium. We also encourage all our guests to follow the David Suzuki Foundations mantra of Reduce, Reuse & Recycle in every day life!
It was an incredible day on the water with wonderful wildlife and awesome guests!
For more images from this epic day please click on the link below;

Oct 17th - Humpbacks Galore!

Oct 17th – Humpbacks Galore!

Humpbacks off Victoria
Humpbacks Galore!
Victoria Whale Watching
Humpbacks Galore!
Today we had another wonderful encounter with multiple Humpbacks between Constance Bank and Race Rocks. One of the Humpbacks BCZ0131, has a very strange tail fluke and has been given the nickname “Gnarly”. We encountered “Gnarly” for the first time yesterday and this Humpback was being playful once again :) We got to see pectoral waves and tail fluke waves several times as well as its full tail fluke as it went on deep dives.
We also encountered a Mother and Calf, though only briefly so we did not a good identification of them. The Salish Sea seems to becoming more popular for Humpbacks to bring their calves to feed during the summer & fall months.
At Race Rocks we encountered Harbor Seals, Northern Elephant Seals, California Sea Lions and Steller Sea Lions. We also encountered a large group of Dall’s Porpoise south of Race Rocks that included a number of Mothers with Babies :)
To see more images from today please click on the link below;

Oct 16th - Multiple Humpbacks near Race Rocks!

Oct 16th – Multiple Humpbacks near Race Rocks!

Humpback Whales near Victoria
Multiple Humpbacks
Victoria Whale Watching
Multiple Humpbacks
Today we had multiple Humpbacks near Race Rocks. We counted at least 10 and possible many more :) Not only did we encounter a lot of Humpbacks but they were being very active and we got to see Pectoral waves, lots of tail flukes and some incredible lunge feeding! One of the Humpbacks BCZ0131, has a very strange tail fluke and has been given the nickname “Gnarly”. This Humpback Whale has not always had this deformity as the identification picture in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, shows a perfectly normal tail fluke. Therefore this deformity is relatively new and the cause is not yet known.
Apart from all the stunning Humpback Whale encountered, we also got to spend soem quality time at Race Rocks with Seals & Sea Lions. It was a glorious day on the water with the Captain & Crew actually in just a T-shirt throughout the entire trip, it was that warm :)
To see more images from this gorgeous trip please click on the following link;

Oct 15th - Orcas, Humpbacks & Porpoise!

Oct 15th – Orcas, Humpbacks & Dall’s Porpoise!

Orcas
Orcas
Humpbacks
Humpbacks
What an incredible day with Orcas, Humpbacks & Dall’s Porpoise! At one stage today we had all three species of Cetacean withing 200 yards of each other :) The Dall’s were playing with J27 “Blackberry” for a while. They rode our bow, always a thrill for our guests, especially in the splash zone and even played with the two Humpbacks we encountered! The two Humpbacks included a favourite “Split Fin” who’s mother is “Big Mamma” and has been seen in our local water since at least 2007.
Dall’s Porpoise are one of the fastest Cetaceans in the world and these robust Black & White Porpoise are capable of reaching speeds of over 50kmh! They love playing in Supercats bow wave due to the Catamaran Design and with our open bow, there is no better vessel for encountering bow riding Dall’s Porpoise :)
The fall colours and other marine mammals such as Harbor Seals made for a truly breathtaking day!
You can see more images from this incredible day at the following link;

Oct 13th - Resident Orcas & A Humpback!

Oct 13th – Resident Orcas & a Humpback!

Killer Whales
Resident Orcas
Humpback Whale
Humpback
Here are a few images of our encounter with Resident Orcas and a Humpback! We encountered the Resident Orcas, including J28 “Polaris” and J34 “DoubleStuf” off the west side of San Juan Island doing a lot of foraging. Orcas need to consume about 10% of their body weight each day in order to maintain their health. Resident Orcas use their biological Sonar, called Echolocation to hunt for their favourite food, Chinook Salmon. J28 “Polaris” was also foraging with her young daughter J46 “Star”, who was born in 2009 and seems to be growing up fast!
The Humpback we encountered was near Constance Bank and we got to see several impressive deep dives and its tail fluke :) It was a gorgeous day on the water, with calm seas and blue skies throughout the trip!Resident
To see more images from today’s tour please click on the link below;

Oct 12th - Transient Orcas & Humpbacks!

Oct 12th – Transient Orcas & Humpbacks!

Oct 10th - Breathtaking Humpback Encounter!

Oct 10th – Breathtaking Humpback Encounter!

Humpback whales off victoria
Breathtaking Humpback encounter
Today we had a breathtaking Humpback encounter a few miles east of Race Rocks! We had spotted the Humpback from a few miles away despite heavy rain and headed over. After a few surfacing the Humpback went on a deep dive. Suddenly the Humpback breached out of no where, much to the shock and delight of those of us lucky enough to be on board :) The Humpback then continued to play and we witnessed some breathtaking behaviour (see the video from this day to get more of an idea)!!
We also visited Race Rocks Ecological Reserve where we saw Sea Lions, Harbor Seals and Northern Elephant Seals. It might have been a bit of a damp day but it did not dampen our spirits and we were rewarded with a breathtaking Humpback encounter :)
If you would like to see more images and video from today please click on the links below;
 

Oct 9th - Resident Orcas near Hein Bank!

Oct 9th – Resident Orcas near Hein Bank!

Orcas
Resident Orcas near Hein Bank
Today we encountered Resident Orcas near Hein Bank! The Orcas were widely spread and we could see whales in every direction. They seemed to mostly be foraging (hunting) for Salmon, in particular Chinook Salmon, their favorite food. Orcas are estimated to need 10% of their body weight every day just to maintain their health, which is a lot of sushi :)  We got to identify a number of Orcas from Lpod & Kpod, including K21 “Cappuccino”!
On our way to the Orcas we had spotted two Minke Whales, a juvenile and a full grown Minke, who were feeding in the tide line south of Discovery Island. We got to see some lunge feeding from the juvenile, always fun to watch. We also got to see a couple of Sea Lions and Porpoise during our tour.
On our way home we stopped off at the Chain Islets to let our guests see the countless number of Harbor Seals that hang out at this haul out area.
If you would like to see more images from this tour please click on the following link;

Oct 7th - Orcas in the fog!

Oct 7th – Orcas in the fog!

Orcas near victoria
Superpod of Orcas in fog
 
This afternoon we found Orcas in the fog near Race Rocks and soon realized we had a Superpod of Orcas coming in from the pacific ocean :)  The only report of whales we had received before we left the dock was of a single Humpback somewhere near Constance Bank. That had been the only whale found by the boats who had gone out in the morning, no one had seen the Resident Orcas until we found them! As soon as we found the Orcas we watched numerous breaches both near and far away as the Orcas seemed to be happy to be back in the Salish Sea. Other actions observed included spy hops, tail lobs, pectoral slaps & waves, and a large number of tail slaps! So many Orcas 60 plus, all to ourselves for at least 30 minutes until the next boat arrived on scene :)
We also stopped off at Race Rocks where we encounter lots of rambunctious Sea Lions, bot Steller & California. We had one group of Stellers come right by our boat and circled under & around us for about 10 minutes (I have posted some video of this action as well)!
The conditins may not have been ideal today but it did not stop us from having one of the best encounters of the season.
If you would like to see more images from this tour click on the link below;

Oct 5th - Incredible Humpback Whale Encounter!

Oct 5th – Incredible Humpback Whale encounter!

Humpback Whales off Victoria
Humpback Whale
Humpback whales off victoria
Humpback Whale Spy Hop!
Today we had an incredible Humpback Whale Encounter! Although we had already has a fantastic encounter earlier in the trip, after visiting Race Rocks we decided to head back to the Humpbacks for one more look and we were certainly glad we did! Not long after we arrived on scene this second time the Humpback decided to play in a kelp bed and then Spy Hopped several times! The Humpback then decided to check out our boat and surfaced nearby while we were stopped in water with our engines off. It had been well over 200 yards away when it went on a deep dive and then appeared close by when it next surfaced. When this happens the best thing to do is keep your engines off and wait until the Whale moves away. We wanted to leave and head home but the Whale had other ideas so we had to sit until it had satisfied its curiosity :)
We also visited Race Rocks Ecological Reserve and had a wonderful experience with the hundreds of Steller & California Sea Lions plus the Harbor Seals & Northern Elephant Seals. While we were out at Race, we could see a lot of very playful Sea Lions and then suddenly we saw one feeding on a large Salmon! It had the fish in its mouth and was thrashing the fish in the air and at the surface, it was a brilliant spectacle :)
If you would like to see more images from this tour please click on the following link;

Thursday, October 15, 2015

October 2nd PM - Humpbacks, Orcas, & the pinnipeds of Race Rocks!

October 2nd PM – Humpbacks, Orcas & the Pinnipeds of Race Rocks!

Resident Orcas off Victoria
Resident Orcas breaching
Resident Orcas
Resident Orcas
Humpbacks off Victoria
Humpbacks
This afternoon we encountered Humpbacks, Orcas & the Pinnipeds of Race Rocks! Our afternoon included encountering a Superpod of Resident Orcas! We had members from all three pods south east of Race Rocks this afternoon and they were being very playful! During our encounter we saw some incredible breaches, tail slaps and spy hops :)
We also got to see a Humpback Whale west of Race Rocks and we saw at least one tail fluke as the Humpback went on a deep dive. At Race Rocks we got to see playful Sea Lions, Harbor Seals and Northern Elephant Seals.
As if all this was not enough on our way back to Victoria we encountered Dall’s Porpoise that began to bow ride our boat and put on an amazing show!!!!
Please click on the link below to see some beautiful images by Marine Naturalist Jenna;
For more images from this day please click on the link below