The waters of Vancouver Island are full of marine life, and these days, the sea is swimming with whales.
“For us, that day, we were lucky we were out there.
We had a possible report of some whales in the area.
We got out and the weather was nice, and we were able to find them.”
Paul Pudwell and Deanna Brett loaded up their boat, and headed out from Sooke Harbour.
And what they saw, surprised them.
“That was my first time seeing them.
So it was really special seeing them.
Transient orcas, yes, but California transients, first time for me.”
“For us it’s significant more so, because we don’t get to see them at all.
It’s rare for us.”
What Pudwell and Brett saw are two families of California transient orcas, not usually seen in these waters at this time of year.
But something exciting is happening with whales off the coast of Vancouver Island, and it’s not only orcas.
“We’re seeing a greater diversity of whales than we saw in Victoria waters 20-years ago.”
“Hi, big boy!”
In early January, these humpback whales off Entrance Island near Nanaimo.
Grey whales are now a common sighting travelling north.
And there are multiple reports of fin whales in the Salish Sea.
“It’s a result, I think, of not only good conservation measures, but also in social attitudes.
We no longer hunt whales, we no longer capture whales for sea parks or anything like that.
And the animals are allowed to live just as they do naturally in the ocean.”
Did you see it?
And then there’s the orca baby boom.
J-55 is the ninth born to the southern resident population.
It’s historic, because it’s the largest number of babies born since record keeping began in the 1970’s.
“2015 marked a banner year in baby production and we’re off to a good start this year.
But I’m hopeful this is a turnaround in what was a dwindling population.”
And experts are hopeful this boom is just the beginning.