WATCH: It’s been a record year for whale sightings in the Salish Sea. Prince of Whales says they saw as many as 200 individual transient killer whales and more humpbacks than ever before. Isabelle Raghem takes a look.
Once a rare sight in the Salish Sea, humpback encounters are now an everyday occurrence for whale watchers according to Prince of Whales tours.
“Just three years ago we’d go out and hoped to see one or two in a day trip last year and this summer we were able to see ten to fifteen in one whale watching tour,” explains Prince of Whales zodiac skipper Joe Zelwietro.
The whale watching company says they’ve never had as many whale sightings as they did this season.
They’ve come across two-thirds of the Pacific coast’s transient killer whale population; an estimated 300 orcas that move between Mexico and Alaska.
“We’ve seen up to 200 distinct individuals this year and years past we’d see from 100 to 150,” adds Zelwietro.
The same can’t be said about the resident orcas. A short supply of chinook salmon to feed on is being blamed on the lowest number of residents in years.
Bt with so many sightings of humpbacks and transients, B.C.’s biggest whale watching company has just ordered a second state-of-the-art catamaran. The $3.5 million Salish Sea Dream, which launched earlier this year and is more environmentally-friendly.
Instead of traditional propellers, the new ship is driven by water jets making it a lot more quiet out on the water. The design also reduces the risk of whale strikes, which prince of whales had a few months ago.
But with the waters of the Salish Sea busier than ever, experts say we can expect to see even more seal-eating transients.
“I think it’s a trend we’ll probably see continue just with the food they’re hunting, it’s been increasing as well for the last decade or so.”
Giving the public more chances to see these majestic creatures.