Friday, May 29th

Today Captain John and Naturalist Jenna headed out with a boat full of brave passengers. We journeyed out in some choppy seas to just past Albert Head where we found T40 a large male transient killer whale (the mammal eating variety). T40 is known as Captain Hook due his distinctive curved dorsal fin. After watching him for a while we headed up to Race Rocks.
There we saw lots of harbour seals, elephant seals, and both california and stellar sealions. We also saw a mature bald eagle being harassed by nesting seagulls. We then headed back toward Victoria for one last visit with Captain Hook. Another west coast day with beautiful weather and wildlife!

Sunday, May 24th

Our afternoon tour was another brilliant adventure spent with J-pod, our most commonly encountered orca pod. However, passengers were in for an unexpected treat as we encountered a gray whale just outside the harbour. What a great start to the tour! After viewing the magnificen
mysticete (whale geek speak for baleen whale), we travelled east to San Juan Island. There we had a fantastic encounter with Mike (J26), Slick (J16) and Echo (J42) and other members of the J16 matriline.

Our 4pm tour caught up with J-pod west of picturesque Speiden Island. There we encountered about half of J-pod moving slowly northbound. First we watched a large group of orcas that included Blackberry (J27) and one of the new calves (J44) pass astern of us. We had a great pass from another group of whales that were frisky to say the least. We saw spyhops, tail slaps and other spectacular behaviours. All in all, it was another amazing day on the water.

Saturday, May 23rd

This afternoon on the Orca Spirit we travelled to the serene waters of Haro Strait where we had a thrilling encounter with a few whales in the J16 matriline. We watched J16, Slick, foraging with her young calf Echo (J42), and were treated to some pretty fantastic high speed porpoising and lunges from the young calf. After we ventured further south to see who else we could find and spotted Mike (J26), an almost fully mature male. We had an absolutely spectacular experience with this young male and overall it was a fantastic encounter with this wonderful resident pod.

Our evening charter encountered J-pod near Hannah Heights on the picturesque San Juan Island. On this trip, we had a truly memorable experience with Mike (J26), but a true highlight of the trip and of this season thus far was an amazing visit with J17 (Princess Angeline) and her young calf, J44. Guests and crew alike were thrilled with our encounter with one of the newest members of J-pod.

Tuesday, May 19th

J-Pod and Harbour Porpoise

This afternoon we headed out with a guest-filled Pacific Explorer to north of Victoria. The resident killer whales of J-pod had been reported travelling south from near Point Roberts, nearly 40 miles away. So we had to cover a lot of distance, in quite a sea swell in order to try and catch a glimpse of them. We encountered several little harbour porpoise on our way out, and when the seas calmed in the waters between the Gulf Islands, there was some excellent porpoise spotting aboard! Arriving at East Point on Saturna Island, we spotted some distinctive black fins. We stayed in the area for a good half an hour, watching the whales, who were dispersed over quite a large area, before they started to regroup. We were treated to displays of full-breaching, cart-wheeling and tail-slapping and good sightings of both J and K pod members. Another great day and another great encounter!

J27 Blackberry

Some of the whales starting to come together

An adult female slapping her tail upside down on the water

K38 Comet, the calf of K20 Spock

K20 Spock

Monday, May 18th

Again, the weather was pretty nippy, but an excited bunch of guests and crew headed out towards San Juan Island where J-pod had been reported earlier. J-pod were there and we managed to get some pretty nice viewings of J1 (Ruffles) and J2 (Granny).

J1, Ruffles surfacing in front of Lime Kiln at San Juan Island

Sunday, May 17th


Today was an exciting day, the Pacific Explorer back in action with two tours fully booked, along with one on the Orca Spirit. Over 800 Spanish Insurance workers were visiting Victoria and were being taken out to see the local wildlife. Reports in the morning informed us that J-pod had been sighted at Sheringham Point, to the west of Victoria, and of Sooke, so that was the direction we headed. Although the weather was not like that of the Mediterranean, we managed to give our guests an amazing J-pod encounter. The whales appeared to be surfacing and showing ‘porpoising’ behaviour through the swell, and in close formation also. We managed to observe many of the members of J-pod, including little J45 (now confirmed as a male by the Centre for Whale Research).

This evening, we had the privilege to take a wedding party out on an evening cruise around the harbour.

Members of J-pod surfacing together at Sheringham Point

Saturday, May 16th

What began as a search for 3 transient orca this morning turned into a veritable superpod of transient orca! Our 9 am trip ventured east towards Haro Strait where 3 orcas had been reported earlier in the morning. We made our way past Trial Island and the Chain Islets and were entering Haro Strait when we received reports of a couple of orcas from our zodiac captain Christian, who had spotted orcas south of Trial Island. north. He soon realized that we had more than just the two and when we got on scene we realized eventually that we were dealing with 20+ transient orcas. Our passengers were awestruck by the sheer size of two mature males, T20 and T102, both common visitors to our waters and were thrilled by an amazing pass from about 7 transient females and juveniles off the stern of our vessel. It was a truly memorable encounter this morning. Our trip was concluded with a spectacular visit to Race Rocks, where we saw four pinniped species: California and steller sea lions, as well as northern elephant seals and harbour seals. It was an excellent way to start the day and there was more to come.

For the afternoon trip we had to travel several miles southwest of Race Rocks where we encountered several orcas south of Sooke. Although the huge transient group had dispersed from the morning tour, we had an excellent encounter with about 8 transient orcas, including T102 and most likely the T101's. We watched some stunning behaviour this afternoon as spyhops and tailslaps seemed to be the order of the afternoon.. I have never seen so much spyhopping form transient orcas. We witnessed at least 15 spyhops! We were able to once again cap our trip with another great tour of Race Rocks and its plethora of pinnipeds. We also witnessed a bald eagle being mobbed by a lone black oystercatcher!

Finally, we had an excellent evening trip aboard the Pacific Explorer, which was making its first trip of the season. This evening we encountered J-pod off of Pile Point on San Juan Island. We had an awesome evening with a spyhopping young orca. We had a wonderful viewing experience with a small group of orcas and it was a magnificent way to conclude an amazing day!

Friday, May 15th

This morning was another brilliant morning, flat calm, no winds, lovely weather. We hoped the whales were still out there from yesterday and had not headed too far north. Right on cue, as we were preparing to leave the harbour, news came through from the hydrophone at Lime Kiln on San Juan Island that vocalisations were being picked up in the area… so that was where we headed. Magnificent, loads of whales, Ruffles, J2, J14 and J45 and nearly all of J-pod, as well as some K-pod members. The whales initially passed our boat in small groups of 2 and 3, we watched them, then moved on a little. After we overtook, we waited again, with the engine off to watch them pass again. This time, all of the whales (over 20 it was thought) regrouped and passed us together in complete silence. They came very close to the boat, and appeared to be in the resting formation. Another spectacular encounter with J-pod. These whales are GREAT!!!!

Members of J-Pod, including Ruffles and J2, surfacing together. This behaviour is typically exhibited with the pod is resting.

Little J45, born in February, the newest member of J-Pod.

One of the tall ships coming into Victoria, set against the Olympic mountains.

Thursday, May 14
J-Pod and Minke Whales

Today was so lovely and sunny, flat calm seas and a boat full of enthusiastic passengers. Reports of whales off San Juan Island came to us just before noon, just in time for the tour. So Brad, Jenna and I (Helen) headed out there, and sure enough, we encountered some members of J-Pod just off the west side of the Island, perfect. The whales just came to the boat, and just as we were turning to leave, Brad turns around and two minke whales surface!

This evening, we had another boat full of passengers, a lively and energetic and highly entertaining group of Canadian travellers. We knew the whales were out there, and they did not let us down. Passing several harbour porpoise on our way out, we encountered members of J-pod again a little further south than where we had left them a few hours earlier. J27 ‘Blackberry’ was on top form, approaching the boat and showing us his best profiles, and J2 and J14 with J45 were also spotted. There were literally whales all around us, it was an amazing encounter.

One of the two Minke whales we saw