VICTORIA, B.C. ::
While in Victoria, Kristie and I couldn't pass up an opportunity to go on a whale watching tour. The resident orca pods frequent the waterways around Vancouver Island and a large number of outfitters depart directly from the harbor. We found Eagle Wing Tours
to be the best reviewed company on TripAdvisor
, and we were very happy with them as well. They cost a bit more than the other guides, but their boats are the nicest, fastest and most comfortable. The "Eagle Wing" is a 38 foot 12 passenger "sports car" on the open water, offering an exciting and surprisingly smooth ride. Cozy survival suits, gloves and toques kept us warm against the wind as we reached 60 mph (52 knots)!
Our three and a half hour tour included close-up encounters with bald eagles, seals (also known to orcas as "rock sausages"), sea lions, dolphins, and of course, the killer whales. We caught up with J-Pod again, and recognized a couple from our last tour
, including J1 and J2, named "Ruffles" and "Granny". Ruffles has a distinct wave in his dorsal. Granny is now the oldest known orca, estimated to be well into her 90s!
The pod was mostly in sleeping mode during the hour we cruised parallel to them, maintaining a distance of 100 yards. According to our captain, the orcas shut off half of their brain while resting, maintaining close proximity to each other and a rhythmic diving pattern. It's not as exciting as a feeding mode, but it was still awesome - and predictable. They're much easier to spot this way.
A couple breath-taking moments included when Granny spy-hopped twice to see what we were up to. She certainly doesn't look 90 years old! It was also exciting to see the little newborns bouncing alongside their much larger family. There were three baby orcas born in the pods this year, two in J-Pod, bringing the total resident population to 85. A hopeful sign of recovery against the tragic death of seven orcas last year.
This entry has been viewed times.