‘Pretty amazing’: Man captures video of whales breaching in unison near Galiano Island


It was a sighting a Galiano Island man will never forget, and it’s going viral online — a group of Bigg’s killer whales caught on video breaching, in unison, in Active Pass.

“It was pretty amazing. I’ve never seen quite a display like that. I’ve seen whales fairly regularly. There are some amazing spots on Galiano to watch from the shore, which is amazing,” said Doug Thistle-Walker.

He was out for a walk last Tuesday, Nov. 21, when he heard whale sounds. Thistle-Walker’s a nature aficionado, “a bit of a wildfire nerd,” he laughs.

So it was music to his ears, and he quickly ran to a lookout at Bluffs Park, where he caught sight of the whales, pulled out his phone and started filming.

“I managed to get to a spot where I could clearly see them. Oftentimes when they’re going through Active Pass, they’re on a mission to get through the Pass as quickly as possible,” he told CHEK News in an interview.

But instead, on this day, it turned into a bit of an ‘orca party.’

“So what happened, actually in Active Pass, is that there was one family of Bigg’s, or mammal-eating killer whales, in the area, and another second family of Bigg’s killer whales came to join them,” said Erin Gless, executive director at the Pacific Whale Watch Association.

“When they came together, there was lots of socializing.”

‘Our favourite thing to watch’

Breaching is when whales jump out of the water — something that often catches people’s attention, like in August when a pod put on a show for onlookers on Gabriola Island.

“When they come together and socialize, that is definitely probably our favourite thing to watch…” said Gless in an interview Tuesday.

So Thistle-Walker posted his footage to social media, where it gained tens of thousands of views and a flood of positive comments.

“Having this moment just by myself watching these whales, and then seeing how many people have seen it and had these great reactions to it is neat,” he said. “It’s nice to share such a pure moment.”

Bigg’s killer whales are thriving in B.C. waters, and they’re here year-round. 

“Actually, it was recently announced that Bigg’s killer whales have been seen in the Salish Sea every single day since March 12th, if you can believe that,” added Gless, “There are 400 in their population.”

A number Thistle-Walker can believe, so catch him marvelling at nature on and around Galiano — and rewatching his video that he’ll cherish forever.

READ MORE: ‘Literally just feet away’: Orcas stampede past onlookers on Gabriola Island

Ethan Morneau

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