Sunday, 20 July 2014

Whales everyday thus far this season

This year has been one of the most memorable for interacting with marine mammals! From encountering the Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) pods, Transient/Bigg's Killer Whales to frequently sighting Humpbacks, Greys & Minke whales too!

Above is a small clip of some of our encounters this far during July from our captains, which you know when they bring out their cameras its a special trip.  One of the most special trips we have been conducting during June & July are our sunset cruises that personally have been my favourite.  Typically, its been great weather, amazing encounters and just beautiful to watch these animals whilst the sun sets.  For more information, bookings and availability for all of our whale watching trips - feel free to contact us at any time.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

A remarkable season so far and a possible expecting mother?!?!

As of now the season has been incredible!! We have had whales on every tour so far since we began our official season, which was June 1st.  The Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) have been very active with a lot of various surface behaviour, such as, tail & pectoral slapping, spy hopping and full body breaching.  You throw in all of that photogenic behaviour, add a lot of sunshine & flat calm seas equals to what we refer to as the perfect "princess day". The photos that we have been anything but spectacular.
photo credit: Scott Stevenson Photography

It does appear that the continuous presence of most of all 3 Pods (J, K & L) would suggest that the food, which is primarily Chinook salmon is plentiful.  We are even lucky enough to catch glimpses of a few romances too, which is very exciting as there has not been a birth in the SRKW for the last 2 summer seasons.  However, the gestation period for Killer Whales is about 18 months, which would suggest the potential for births in the upcoming seasons are possible.  BUT!! What is even more promising are the rumours of J32 (Rhapsody) who is an 18 year old female who looks quite pregnant!! Check the photo below. 

Photo Credit: Josh McInnes from the Transient Killer Whales Research Project

We all in the industry and excited and nervous about the potential of a possible birth this season as we are aware of the importance for the population whose numbers have dwindled down to 79 Killer Whales in total.  Stay tuned for more updates about the possible expecting mum, Rhapsody.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Bigg's (transient) & Resident Killer Whales all in ONE trip!!

These last few days have been quite the experiences on the water for a lot of out trips.  We have been seeing both types of killer whales on a single trip.  Allow me to elaborate on this statement.  There are numerous eco-types or forms of Orca/Killer Whales around the world.  This depends on their geography, genetics and language amongst other determining factors.  The two types we typically see here on the West Coast around the southern part of Vancouver Island are Bigg's (transient) Orca & Southern Resident Orca.  Firstly, Bigg's or Transient Orca's diet consists mainly of marine mammals such as, harbour seals, sea lions, porpoises, and even young baleen whales (humpbacks & grey whales).  They tend to be in smaller pods of around 2-6 but can be seen in larger pods of over 15 whales at a time.  Secondly, the southern resident orca are our salmon eating orca that tend to spend their summer around our local waters and are the most studied orca in the world due to their consistency of being here year in and year out.  Furthermore, they have larger pod sizes and out of the 3 pods that frequent here in the summer there are a total of 80 Orca (20-40 Orca in the 3 different families/pods).  There are a lot of other differing factors associated with these two types of Orca, which include behavioural differences, diet, traveling patterns, physical appearance, vocalizations and genetics amongst others.

Photo Credit to Captain Russ Nicks ~ T18's west side of Pender Island heading north

What is amazing about seeing both types of Orca is that they do avoid each other in the wild & to be able see both of them within a small area this many times already in June is great to see!! It could be due to the fact that the Bigg's Orca population is growing steadily at a rate of 15% a year, and their presence around our local waters have increased these last few seasons.  At the end of the day as long as this marine system can not only sustain a stable population but a growing one for both Orca types, I am a dead set happy camper.

It is amazing to be able to interact with both types of Orca on a single trip 3.5 hour trip, as it is a great way to show our guests just how different these two types are in comparison to each other.  Personally, just being out here on the water and seeing one whale is amazing let alone both types of Orca and potential other cetacean species, such as, humpbacks, greys & minkes.  Love this coast!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

J Pod is back in our local waters!!

The weather has been amazing throughout May, which means it has been fantastic to be on the water searching for wildlife & of course, Whales!!  We have been seeing Killer Whales & humpbacks on almost every trip throughout May.  Today on May 31st J Pod, one of our resident killer whale families has returned back to their usual summer feeding ground!  This is perfect timing as our Whale Guarantee comes into affect as of tomorrow.  What this means is that it does not matter how far away the animals we are going - this means our standard 3.5-4 hour trip could be extended.  If the worse case scenario does occur and we have no whales in our immediate area, which is very rarely during summer you get a partial refund of your ticket cost AND you get to come out for FREE too!!

This next week of weather forecast is nothing but sunshine and flat calm seas, you add whales to that mix and you have yourself an incredible west coast adventure that most people will only ever dream of!

Send us an email or give the office a call at any time to find out more details and to book your adventure

Thursday, 17 April 2014

April has been awesome so far!!

April has been epic on the water so far with Killer Whale sightings almost on every trip!! The main Orca ecotype we have been interacting with the most are the Bigg's (transient) Orca, which are your marine mammal eating Orca.  Roughly, here on the west coast there is a population of about 300 Bigg's Orca, which typically are considered to have a range from south east Alaska to all the way down to the California coast.  Recently, some researches have concluded that the population of the Bigg's Orca is growing at a steady rate of 5% a year, which is about 15 new orca every year! One belief  for the growth of the population could is due to the increasing population of harbour seals on the west coast, as they are a food source for that Orca ecotype, which basically correlates to the theory of more food = more predators.

However, we were blessed with the recent return of K Pod (Southern Resident Orca), which has 20 Orca in that pod.  They looked very healthy and the males looked bigger than last year, which is fantastic as they must have had a great winter season for food availability.  All we are waiting for now are the other two pods - J & L to return, and hopefully with a few new calves too - we will just have to wait and see!!  This season is going to be a real fun one, and i can't wait for the season to begin.  Even though, as of now we are running twice daily @10am & 2:30pm to go searching for our beloved Orca and the rest of the amazing wildlife that you find on this unique coast.  Call us, email us or come down to the office and see what we are seeing that day & to come out for a memorable west coast adventure!

Photo credit to Eve Jourdain

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The start of the Spring is upon us and it has been spectacular on the water.  Not only have the usual suspects been consistently being sighted on every trip, which include sea lions, seals, eagles & porpoises.  We have also been having frequent Orca sightings from our resident pods and marine mammal eating Transients.  There have been quite a few random sightings too, that even our most experienced Captains have been surprised by.  These include black bears, sea otters & a lone wolf on one of the close Gulf Islands, who at the time was also deciding to snack on a harbour seal! That is an awesome, unexpected sight!!
photo credit: Shannon Guiler Photography

This Spring has been incredible so far on the water and we are no doubt going to have an incredible summer with all of our boats upgraded and Captains ready for action.  So, if you haven't already booked yet, I would suggest you hurry and plan your west coast experience with us soon ;)

Monday, 6 January 2014

Introducing BC ORCA 2.0!

Happy 2014 everyone!

Here at BC Whale Tours we have started off the new year with some exciting news, our upgrade of BC ORCA is now complete and ready for action.  For those that do not remember what BC ORCA use to look you can see a picture below.  It was a standard sized RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat), with a single 350hp Yamaha outboard, which made this boat incredibly Eco-Friendly and a lot of fun to go out on.  However, Capt. Harold wasn't quite 100% happy with the way the boat itself handled in the ever-changing West Coast conditions.
Original BC ORCA prior to upgrade

Therefore, enter ORCA 2.0!The changes made to it are quite extreme with the hull being lengthened 10ft, with a complete hull redesign (more details below).  The width of the boat increased to 9ft, allowing all passengers to walk around the boat at all times without having to step on the tubes.  The covered, heated cabin was fitted on the back of the boat allowing everyone escape from the cold and rain that frequents our West Coast throughout the year.  This means that for our 12 passenger maximum on each trip we have 24 seats on board! Lastly, an extra 350 hp Yamaha engine was added giving this girl 700hp, which easily allows her to get up to and over 50knots (100km/hr or 60miles/hr)!  This is hands down the fastest vessel on the West Coast now in the entire Whale Watching Industry!!
BC ORCA today!

The most exciting part of the boat was Capt. Harold's redesign of the hull.  He gave ORCA a double step hull, which means that when ORCA is speeding along less of her hull is in contact with the water's surface this decreases drag/friction.  This in turn allows for higher speeds with less power, which continues to reduce our impact environmentally by using less fuel than competitors whilst covering more distance at a higher speed.  That is a major WIN WIN!  Currently, we are running our Wildlife Tours daily @1pm with a priority of searching for whales ~ if you are up for an unforgettable experience give us a call to book your trip!