Aaron Fraser’s Instagram video captures the moment a large transient orca swam underneath his tube in the waters off Oak Bay near Cattle Point.
“It’s right under us. Here! Here! Look! Look! Look! Oh my god. Dan! Dan! Dan!”
The orca, likely a member of the transient population leisurely swims around the personal watercrafts. The humans, though, are not as calm.
These type of interactions are increasing along the south coast with transient orcas seen on a daily basis. The southern resident killer whales are rarely seen in these waters. Marine Life Studies biologist Josh McInnes said sightings of the transients are now a daily occurrence.
‘Their numbers have definitely been increasing. Their occurrence patterns are also increasing. We’re getting reports daily, pretty much, from whale watchers, boaters, general public. Anyone who will send in general sightings. Of these animals,” McInnes said.
Two weeks ago, a male orca appeared in the Inner Harbour, stopping all traffic in and out for half an hour. Then a group hunting a seal last week attracting attention along Victoria’s Dallas Road.
According to Dr. Anna Hall, marine biologist, it’s a good idea to exercise caution when encountering these top predators that can weigh up to ten tons.
“They are curious animals. They are large-brained thinking mammals. And I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility that they may be curious, but they do exhibit curiosity by using their mouths sometimes,” Hall said.
From a low of 90 transient orcas in the 1990s to more than 350 now, there will be more encounters. The experts say enjoy, but give these orcas their space.