I was downtown chatting with a few friends when another friend joined us. He was very excited! He said he had just come off of the water and had come across a pod of Orcas! I immediately got excited myself and asked where he had seen them and how many? He said there were 10 and they were heading around Meares island!
I had to go around to 4 different whale watching companies to find out where they were exactly at that moment? I finally found out their location and knew where they were heading. They were in the north and about to go south around Meares island,so I got all my gear together and headed out! I decided to go eastward and then turn northward to intercept!
I figured they’d be in Fortune Channel by the time I caught up to them and sure enough that’s exactly where I found them! The best way to find a whale is to watch for slow moving boats but because of the pandemic there were no Whale watching boats trailing behind. So the only way I could spot them was to keep turning my head from side to side like a human radar looking for the blows!
When they surface they blow which puts a fine mist up into the air. That blow will “hang” and give away their position BUT If it’s windy (which seems to be more often then not) the wind will sweep away that blow concealing their location! I’ve had entire pods go right underneath me and not seen them at all! So If you go looking for whales hope that it’s a calm day or just look for the whale watching boats trailing behind.
I stayed with them for over 2 hours. The light wasn’t great but hey……they were Orca’s! One of them spy hopped (coming up vertical) to see what was going on around but because I was moving fast to catch up, I missed the shot.
This pod is known as the T069’s. It’s a category system for identification of Orca’s. This pod loves to come around Tofino! They are Transients,meaning they eat warm blooded animals,Seals, Lions etc The other group of Orca’s are called the Residents (Southern) and they eat salmon exclusively.
The Souther Residents are few in numbers (76?) because humans are eating all of their food! They eat just about nothing but Chinook salmon which is also a prized salmon for anglers. Many Resident Orca’s have died because of malnutrition over the years! Researchers can tell when they are starving because of the shape of their head. They get what is called “peanut head”. The fat reservers deplete creating this odd shaped head.
The only way to stop this group from dying out is to limit the salmon catch of all fisheries but as per usual so many fisherman cry foul! They want money in their pockets and don’t give two shits about any damn Orca’s!
Homo Sapiens are a species that is unsustainable. Until we can limit OUR numbers and live within Natures bounds we are destined to fail and thus perish.
The bull caught a Harbour Seal! The family would come in and take turns feeding. Even the Gulls and Eagles take turns as a Harbour Seal has a high fat content to protect them from the cold. That fat is lighter then water and so floats to the surface. When you see Gulls massing over the water and diving in that’s a defiant sign that there was a kill.
In this shot the Bull was inverted. A Orca is about 25 feet long and weighs in at 5 tons. It also has one of the largest penis’s in the animal kingdom at 8 feet. The Bull (T069C) must of had sex with his partner? How do I know……….when he rolled over he was smoking a cig.
Researchers have found the best way to ID a Orca is to look at it’s “saddle patch”. The saddle patch is at the base of the dorsal fin. Each is as unique as a fingerprint. They also show unique scaring. Sometimes chunks are taken out of the dorsal making them easier to ID.
I was riding my bike downtown when a friend yelled out from his truck that a Orca pod had just gone through the harbour and more importantly was heading inside!
When they go on the inside inlets they are much easier to get shots of. On the outside after they sound, one never knows where they are going to surface but on the inside the passages are much more narrow and act like a cattle chute.
I hurried to get out in my boat! (which still took me over a hour) I had trouble finding them as no boats were tailing them by the time I arrived. I didn’t know If they had gone north into Fortune Channel or continued eastward down Tofino Inlet? I searched for about 3 hours but finally found them way down Tofino inlet past Barryman point. There were four of them! I immediately recognized them as the pod I had seen two weeks earlier! Almost right off the bat I saw three total breaches! I was lucky to get them! While I was consumed with getting the shots I didn’t notice that another pod of 5 had joined them. I was surrounded by them! They all seemed to be very happy! One of them came up behind me and vocalized! I’ve never heard a Orca speak before and was startled! I continued to hear many differently vocalizations! I wondered if they were upset with me being around them but soon realized that If they were they would not be hanging around and they would be avoiding me. They jumped out of the water,slapped their tails,rolled and talked loudly to each other!
I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing! I was with them over 2 hours and took 571 shots. I also took some video. I won’t be getting many more opportunities like this again!
I stayed with them right to sunset. I didn’t want to waste a single moment! I was over a hour away from town. I said goodnight and thanked them as I accelerated. I could see off to my right one of them tail slapping more than three times in a row. I considered that to be them waving goodbye and goodnight!
On my way back I passed through Tsapee Narrows where the Daredevil lives. It was getting dark but not dark enough for me to be able to see the Daredevil flying towards me! He flaired right above me and a large feather immediately fell! I turned around and picked it up and thanked him!
The feather gift was the cherry to top off a excellent Orca shoot!
I went out tonight with the goal of finding some of my furry friends up in Fortune Channel. At the south end of Fortune Channel is Dawley Pass. I was heading northward and about to enter Fortune when a Orca popped up right in front of me heading south! Orcas are relatively rare,so I turned around and began following them. I was with them the better part of 3 hours. They headed eastward down Tofino inlet. Other boats joined me in procession. After a hour or so all the other boats took off leaving me alone with them once again. The light was pretty good for the background but they did stay in the shadows. I’m not sure how many were in this pod but I’d hazard a guess at 4 or 6 ? The youngster kept coming up with a bit of a jump to its breach! I’ll find out who they are tomorrow. I lost them around Rankin rocks and so headed back to Tofino. I stopped off for a quick hello with the Daredevil. Couldn’t stay long as I was already coming back in semi darkness and I do not have running lights.
I was very happy to of found them! These are very intelligent and beautiful creatures!
UPDATE : April 29.19 – I found out this pod is T023C.Three matured females and a calf. aka Motley Crew
I heard of some Orcas coming into the inlet! I can only really take shots of Orcas when they come on the inside.If they are out in open ocean I can never tell where they are going to come up but If they go on the inside (down Tofino inlet), the more narrow channels corrals them. When they sound (dive) they are more predictable where they will be coming back up.
I went down the inlet looking for them.Turns out it was Wakana & her son Rainny! My favourite mother son combination! Wakana was born in 1963.She had Rainny when she was 15 years old.Rainny was born in 1978. Rainny is a real mummies boy but don’t tell him that. Rainny is a big boy,5tons at 25 feet! They are always seen together. They are called “The Wakana’s” & visit clayoquot sound frequently!
When I first spotted them at a distance,I could see Rainny spy hopping & than 30 seconds later breach clear of the water! I was too far away & travelling too fast to even try to take a shot. Unfortunately, he didn’t do any more spy hopping or breaching again!
They gave me the slip several times! They are well known for escaping from whale watching boats. I never did get any shots of them in bright light,but will be content with what I did get!
The adult female was making a kill of a Californian Sea Lion. They weigh in at 1/2 ton. The entire group shared in the meal.It would be like you inviting your poor hungry cousins over for Thanksgiving & watch them devour the Turkey in a few seconds.
The poor thing tried to keep it’s head above water but couldn’t & sank below.
This was originally shot on June 23rd,2013.
A small pod of Orca’s came into Tofino inlet looking for a snack.
Whenever a pod comes into a area,they make their presence known by announcing themselves.They make certain sounds that are very recognizable to all listening! Everyone in the neighbourhood knows exactly who they are & what they want! So everyone swims away & hides.Usually in beds of seaweed.
Once the pod announces themselves,they fall silent.They move into each bay checking the seaweed beds for hiding prey.Once supper is found,it’ll try to make a run for it.Sometimes they get away……..& sometimes they do not.
This video shows the pod catching & killing a harbour seal in Rankin cove. Watch for a few of the blows to turn from white to a weak red colour!
After making the kill,the large male decides to come over to me for a visit.
He catches me off guard.I had my large lens on & needed my smaller one.You can hear me cursing when I realized that.
I think I know why he came over to check me out btw.I wear a pair of large headphones.I like listening to my music.I took it off & placed it on the hard floor of my boat.I left the music playing.I suspect he heard the music playing & came over to find out what it was?
When he surfaced directly in front of me,he slowly rolled over onto his left side & glided slowly under my boat.I’ll always remember that large questioning eye looking up at me!
The video is 33 minutes long.I wear the Go Pro on my head so that my hands are free.
I apologize for not editing the video to make it shorter.This is the raw footage.
I would suggest going ahead to the 23 minute mark.Thats when we arrived in Rankin cove & the fun begins.
This is T 011A…….aka “Rainny”.He’s the son of T011 (Wakana).He was born in 78,while his Wakana was born in 63. Like a good son,Rainny always stays close to his mother.They travel together all the time. They were both up Tofino Inlet today looking for dinner.I saw a Harbour Seal on the surface & wondered how long he’d be for this world If he kept hanging about? They gave me the slip after 2 hours of shadowing. I hate when they do that!
A friend phoned me up & told me there were Orca’s down the inlet! He knows I cannot go on the outside to follow these guys & sometimes gives me a heads up when they go on the inside!(much calmer on the inside)
Turns out there was a pod already out by Warne island with a second coming into Browning Pass!
I headed out to find them. The best way to find Orca’s is not to look for Orca’s,but to look for Whale watching boats moving slowly!
Once they go into Tofino inlet there are only two ways they can leave. Back out Browning Pass to the west or up into Fortune Channel to the north.
I didn’t see any boats down Tofino inlet,so I thought I’d pop up into Fortune Channel to see if I could see any boats in there? I did & couldn’t!
So the only thing I could think of,was that they must of been further down Tofino inlet out of sight? So I headed down the inlet looking.
The wind was kicking up which made the ride difficult! I went all the way down to Deer bay at the end of Tofino inlet looking for them & came up empty handed! I was very disappointed!
They must of gone up into Fortune Channel & left the building before I arrived?
Missing the Orca’s bummed me outfox awhile,………….. but it happens.
Going on my “Wild Goose (Orca) chase” took up 2 1/2 hrs! I looked at the sun & decided I had enough time & light to look for bears in Gunner inlet. Went in,looked around but couldn’t find a one. The tide was still too high I suppose?
Decided to go into Fortune Channel & look for my furry friends there? Didn’t have a huge amount of time,so I did a short run along the eastern shore line to the north. Couldn’t find a one out & about!
Had to leave Fortune,but on the way out I kept a look along the shore line that I had already checked 10 minutes earlier.
Sure enough I spied a bear about a 1/2 mile off in a small bay! I realized this bay it was in was getting very close to having the light go bye bye! Meares islands shadow was creeping close. So I came in a little faster than normal. I glassed the bear & realized it was “White Eye” & the triplets! She’s a very calm bear & already knows me,so that worked in my favour!
From the time I stopped to the time the light went couldn’t of been more than a few minutes,but it was long enough to get some good shots of “White Star” standing up wondering what the fuss was all about!
Said goodnight to “White Eye” & headed back to town.
I stopped off in Tsapee Narrows of course to visit with the Daredevil & Delilah.They have a eaglet in the nest. They both came over to say hello. Got a few shots of my friends said goodnight & continued down Browning into town.
I looked behind me after a minute & realized they both were following me very closely! I told them to go home.
As I was coming into the harbour (the sun was beginning to set) I saw the very distinct blow of a Orca! The silly buggers must of slipped by me as I was heading down the inlet! They were heading westward,as I was going eastward! If there is a wind,it wipes out the blows very quickly. So you cannot see them unless you happen to be looking at that exact moment when they breach. The best is a calm day! The blows can hang in the air for several minutes sometimes!
I recognized the large Orca! It was T074. He has a dorsal fin that’s been chewed on. (I wonder what was brave enough to do that?)
It was a group of three. The father (T074),the mother (T073) & the youngster (T073D,sex unknown?).
When I first came into the harbour,nobody was around them! They had just arrived into the harbour as well. They came out of Tofino inlet all by themselves! Remarkable!
They were not cruising,instead were milling about. I tried to keep my distance but they came over to me several times!
I followed them throughout the harbour. But by this time,many boats & kayaks were surrounding them.
Keeping my distance became difficult.
The sun had set by this time,so I knew the only shots I would be able to get would be silhouettes! The western sky looked fantastic for a back drop! The only problem was to line that sunset up with them as they breached?
I managed to get off a few great shots when the bull decided to do a series of 5 consecutive jumps out of the water!I was in perfect position!
I have no idea why he did that,but was very happy he did! I could hear the crowds along the shore line cheering away!
After this fantastic performance,they regrouped & headed out of the harbour. I followed for another 10 minutes or so & called it a night when they surfaced a long ways off. The light was gone & the show was over.
Called it a night & headed back in.
I looked 2 1/2hrs for them in rough water & came up empty,but they surprised me near the end of the night & gave a fantastic performance that Tofino rarely ever see’s in it’s own harbour!
Another day in paradise folks!!
T074,T073 & T03D rocks & so does living in Tofino!!