April 7th - Whale Watching Close to home

After some concern for the weather, we lucked out with a sudden change in conditions and got to head out for some fantastic whale watching in surprisingly dry weather, a great start to the Easter Weekend!
Greeting the local pair of Bald Eagles nesting along the Steveston Jetty, our attention was taken by the numerous Californian and Stellar Sea lions. A popular spot for the two different species of Sea Lions to chillax and have a rest.

Stellar Sea Lion
Californian Sea Lions

These Sea Lions were probably unaware that their fierce predator was lurking in the waters not far from the other side of the jetty but that was good news for us!
We headed northwards up the coast along Sturgeon Banks and Richmond and the search began.
Luckily we didn't have to search for long as we quickly spotted the family of Bigg's Killer Whales surfacing together. The family in question were the T086A's, a mother with her three daughters.

T086As with the Steveston Jetty in the background

It was incredible to get a family of Bigg's Killer Whales right on our doorstep, next to Steveston! We stayed with the family as they travelled south towards deeper waters in the Strait. They definitely kept us on our toes as we never knew where or when they would pop up next, it just added to the excited.


One daughter, T086A3 who was born in 2011, was easily recognizable by the distinct hanging notch on her dorsal fin (pictured above). We made the most of our whale watching while we were with them and our passengers were very enthusiastic in learning all about these majestic creatures! We could've stayed all day but it we had our fill and said goodbye as they continued on their travels.

Transient Killer Whales: T086A's

But the whale watching tour didn't end after our time was up with the T086A's as ANOTHER whale species was spotted in the Strait not far from where we were so we continued our journey to see if we could catch a glimpse. And we did! Our first Grey Whale of the season!

Grey Whale by Uko Gorter 2013

Grey Whales can be spotted in the Salish Sea in Spring and early summer as they make their way up to Arctic feeding grounds for the summer.
These huge baleen whales can grow up to 40-46 ft. (12-14.1m) and weigh 60,000-80,000 lbs. (27,215-36,280kg)! Although we only got to spot this majestic creature for short while we did get to see the distinctive gray patches and white mottling on its dark skin and of course the massive blow when it came to the surface take a big breathe.

Grey Whale to human scale

This allusive Grey whale managed to evade our camera lens but sometimes its better to be present in the moment with these gentle giants!
It was an easy journey back to Steveston as we were already so close home but we had a fantastic whale watching experience and unique trips like this one are a great reminder of the abundance of wildlife right on doorstep of a large city like Vancouver. The importance of the area was not lost on anyone that day.

Thanks to all who joined Captain Scott and Naturalists Shauna & Camryn ! All photos were taken using a Canon EOS Rebel T3i with a teleophoto lens and have been cropped.

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