ORCARAMA

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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!

MAKING A KILL

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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.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE ORCA KIND

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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.

ME & FRIENDS…….”WAKANA” & “RAINNY”

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While I was taking shots of the Orca’s………..a friend was taking shots of me! Both these shots were taken by Arthur Ahier yesterday (April 10th,2016)

In the top shot you can see “Rainny” in the background & his mother Wakana” in the foreground. He came close to me in the bottom shot. Always thrilling to be so close to such magnificent creatures!

(that is Creative Salmons’ fish farm (Eagle Bay) in the background)

SURFACING (“RAINNY”…..T011A)

 

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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!

 

ORCA’S IN THE HARBOUR!

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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!!

“THE SPIES” RETURN!

20150113-IMG_584920150113-IMG_585620150113-IMG_5864 I headed out today as per normal. As I left the harbour I was pleasantly surprised to see the T068 – C’s!
They were here almost two weeks ago. The spot I picked them up last time was exactly the same spot that I picked them up this time! Whats the odds on that eh?
One difference this time was that they were not being followed by anyone. I couldn’t believe my luck!

I am calling this group of 4 Orca’s “The Spies” because the two adult females seem to like to “Spy Hop”! On the last visit,I saw them Spy Hop three times & this visit,they did it twice! The head of the group is T068 – C & the three others are her offspring of various years. I ‘m calling the matriarch T068 – C “Natasha”.
The others are C1,C2 & C3 (I assume). C3 is the youngest of the group & sticks pretty close to mummy.

I began to follow them heading eastward down Browning Pass around 1:30pm. They continued eastward & made a left turn around the SE corner of Meares island. They were heading northward up into Dawley Pass & than into Fortune Channel.
They went through Dawley but only briefly into Fortune Channel. Natasha did one of her spy hops to see what was going on on top & than they returned from whence they came. They went back into Dawley Pass & continued down to the end of Windy Bay. They than came out of Windy & headed southward pass Baxter islet.
It widens here. I almost lost them at this point! I was keeping a sharp eye open but they slipped away from me for more than 20 minutes!
I didn’t know if they returned to town or headed further eastward down Tofino Inlet? I was using my binocs to scan down Tofino Inlet when I saw their blows over a mile away!
Headed down & caught up with them. The sun was behind some clouds at this point & semi good but I saw a large break coming! It was getting close to sunset & I knew that when the sun came out from behind those clouds that it was going to be a golden sunset! Perfect conditions! I couldn’t of asked for a better scenario!
They went around Indian island for a bit. They than picked up their original direction & continued eastward down Tofino Inlet.
It was about this time that golden light flooded the entire inlet! I was trying to line them up with the background every time they surfaced.
I got a great series of shots around this point.
The sun was beginning to set by this time. I had been with “The Spies” for almost 4 hours by this point! I took a few more shots & had to say goodnight to my friends. I left them near Barryman point. It looked like they were going to continue down Tofino Inlet to Deer Bay?

By this time,things were getting dark so I headed back into town. I later found out that I had almost filled my 32 Gig card! I took 993 shots today!
I heard the next day that they were up in one of the Inlets near Ahoushat?

Being able to hang around with “The Spies” was a unique experience! It’s shoots like this that I’ll remember for a very long time!
Today was a most excellent day!