Orca and Humpback whales!! Oh my oh my; seals and Steller sea Lions. What a day for the marine mammals!! We were cruising south from Grace Harbour to Pender Harbour. We were just off of Powell River when Grand Adventure, the boat furthest back announced that they spotted several Orca whales. These are relatively easy to identify with their large dorsal fins. The male’s fin can exceed 5 feet in length sticking up out of the water like a sail. While it is sometimes hard to get an exact count of the number of whales, it was estimated that there were at least a dozen in this pod. Most of the boats were able to turn around and watch the whales surface and feed. While we would like to think that this Orca population has stabilized, many scientists now believe there is simply not enough genetic diversity in the remaining numbers to allow for a successful long term survival of the Orcas in this area. Many of the first born whales die as a result of their mother’s breast milk being so toxic from accumulated toxins in their body that they are literally being poisoned by their mother’s milk. Add to that the severely declined population of the Orca’s target prey item, King salmon, and you have a recipe for disaster for this population, which we are starting to see materialize. We are making progress in cleaning up our waters but it may be too little too late to save these whales. So, we celebrate them when we are able to see them and hope they will find a way to survive. The Humpbacks are doing a bit better. While many have already left for the 2,000 mile swim to Hawaii, it was exciting to see them gracefully surfacing, blowing their exhalation “spouts” into the air and watching their tail fluke disappear beneath the surface as they swim back down in search of food.
The OceanFlyer crew had invited all of us to join them aboard their boat for cocktails this evening. What a nice gathering. Warm sun, protected anchorage and wonderful views of the homes on the cliffs. It is amazing how quickly everyone gets to know one and another and enjoy these special moments of sharing past and future adventures.