Finally it’s starting to feel a bit more like summer on the Salish Sea and we’ve had J Pod, one of our three resident families of salmon eating orcas return to our waters. All the members of J Pod are present and accounted for, confirmed by the Center for Whale Research. We were lucky enough to have an evening encounter with J Pod at East Point on Saturna Island. It was a great sight to see them spread out actively foraging in their matrilineal groups and actively catching fish. As the sun was setting they started to group up and rounded East Point as a family. They then spent the next four days foraging between Nanaimo and Courtney. I hope they are finding the salmon they need and their bellies are full!Hopefully our late winter
and abundant snowpack will help the rivers and Chinook salmon of British Columbia and Washington State.
The past two years have been extremely hard on our Chinook salmon with record low river flows and some Vancouver Island rivers almost drying. This drought has put even more pressure on our endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. In less than 20 years we’ve lost 20 whales from a population of 98. The higher water levels, cooler temperatures and deeper snowpack bodes well for the Chinook returning to the Salish Sea’s rivers. Both the salmon and the whales need any and all the help they can get these days.
The Biggs Killer Whales (mammal eaters) are thriving in the Salish Sea and we’ve been having some excellent encounters. It is now almost a regular occurrence to have large gatherings of Biggs Killer. Some days we are seeing over 20 Biggs socializing and hunting together. We would only see these gatherings about once a year ten years ago and now it’s almost weekly. There is just such a huge abundance of Harbour Seals and Sea Lions for the Biggs to prey on in the Salish Sea. All in the the sightings have been excellent and we’ve seen whales on every tour run in these past two months!