Back in Tofino: Bigg's Killer Whales T109B's, T109C's and Lone Bull T065A2

Back in Tofino: Bigg's Killer Whales T109B's, T109C's and Lone Bull T065A2

Yesterday was a great day for Killer Whale sightings for our guides in Tofino! In the morning Howie Tom picked up the T109B’s and T109C’s at Cleland Island. These two gangs spent the afternoon slowly making their way to Lennard Light eating many seals along the way. These two gangs are the offspring of T109 (aka Big Momma) and are frequent visitors to Clayoquot Sound.

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Big Momma! Transient Killer Whale T109 in Tofino!!

Big Momma! Transient Killer Whale T109 in Tofino!!

Big Momma! T109 (born in the mid 1970’s) is a frequent visitor to Clayoquot Sound. This matriarch is a mother to 4 daughters and 1 son plus Grandmother/Great Grandmother to 13 offspring. She was in Tofino yesterday with T109D, T109D1 and T109E. Yesterday was our first encounter with her since T109B and T109C split off with their offspring.

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Finally! The T109A's come back to Clayoquot Sound with T097!

Finally! The T109A's come back to Clayoquot Sound with T097!

This morning John and I were going to head out to try and photograph Blue Sharks but our plans changed when we got word that there were 9 Bigg’s Killer Whales off Lennard Light. The T109A’s, now a gang of eight, were back! They had not been photographed in our waters since winter. This gang is locally known as The Runaways and they are frequent visitors to the Tofino area. The gang had a bull with them today. T097, who was born in 1980, has only been photographed in our area once in 2011. We were excited to photograph a new to us Killer Whale and use the new DFO Photo-Identification catalogue! The Killer Whales spent most of the day slowing moving up the coast killing several seals along the way.

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Minke Whales & Humpback Whales off Tofino

Minke Whales & Humpback Whales off Tofino

We have had fantastic Whale sightings over the past week in Tofino.

Guests on our tours have been able to see Minke Whales a few miles off Lennard Light. Minke Whales are the second smallest baleen whale. The Minke Whale is does not give us as much surface time as other whales. It breathes three to five times at short intervals before 'deep-diving' for two to 20 minutes. Deep dives are preceded by a pronounced arching of the back.

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BIGG'S KILLER WHALES: T075B's, T075C's and T037A1 were in Tofino the past two days!

BIGG'S KILLER WHALES: T075B's, T075C's and T037A1 were in Tofino the past two days!

Yesterday we got word that 6 Killer Whales were making their way into Templar Channel. We met up with the Killer Whales as they were making their way through the Channel into the Tofino Harbour. They swam through the harbour and up Browning Passage. We identified the whales as the T075B, T075B2, T075B3, T075C, T075C1 and T037A1. They were last seen last night in the Bedwell.

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Tofino Bear Watching - $10 Off Special

Tofino Bear Watching - $10 Off Special

Bear Watching in Tofino is in full swing! We are seeing many Black Bears on our daily Bear Watching Tours. So far this season we have observed 5 new Black Bear Cubs in Fortune and Gunnar Inlets. For the month of June we are offering a $10 off coupon for Adult Rate Bear Watching Tour guests! When you check out on our website use the code bears10 to receive your $10 off discount.

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SRKW - New Calf with J Pod

SRKW - New Calf with J Pod

Yesterday we got word from Tim (The Whale Centre) and Jeffrey Tom (Jamie’s) that there were Killer Whales 4 miles off Lennard Light. John and I headed out on the Lil Salty to go out and see who the whales were. We got on scene and determined that the whales were in fact J pod. All whale watching companies made the call to stop watching the whales once they knew they were in fact SWKW.

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Are the T023's the new locals?

Are the T023's the new locals?

A big shout out to Captain Chris McCue from Jamie’s Whaling Station for picking up the T023’s coming into the Tofino Harbour yesterday. It was a windy and choppy afternoon so the Killer Whales in calm waters were a real treat for everyone. John and I caught up with the Motley Crew gang (all of them: Janice and the C’s and D’s) in Browning Passage. We left them last night at the entrance to Gunner.

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A Quick Glimpse of Killer Whales T117 and T120

A Quick Glimpse of Killer Whales T117 and T120

Yesterday we got word that there were two Bigg’s Killer Whales heading up the coast off Cleland Island. Jamie’s Whaling Station was on scene and said there was a male bull and a female traveling quickly up the coast. We headed out in the Eco. These whales were traveling at 10 knots so we caught up with them off of Hot Springs Cove. T120 (born 1986) was with his mother T117 (born T117). We were able to capture a few photo ID’s of both whales and then we let them go. They were on a mission!

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Another Day with Motley Crew - T023 Killer Whales in Tofino!

Another day with the whole family! First we got word that T023 and the T023D’s were back in the Bedwell this morning, right where we left them last night. John and I headed out in Lil’ Salty at 9:45 to the back side of Meares Island. When we arrived on scene the gang of Transient Killer Whales had just made a kill and were on the move heading out towards Rant Point.

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Killer Whales! The T023's were back in Tofino!

Killer Whales! The T023's were back in Tofino!

Yesterday afternoon we got word that a gang of Bigg’s Killer Whales were picked up behind Meares Island. Howie and I headed out on the Eco to see if we could identify the whales. We picked up the Killer Whales at Bear Bluff way back in the Bedwell. Right away we knew it was T023 and T023D and her offspring. We had just seen them behind Meares Island on Monday and observed them heading down the coast. I guess they are liking all the Sea Lions behind Meares Island!

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Biggs Killer Whales - More of the T023's

Biggs Killer Whales - More of the T023's

A few days ago we had a visit from the Bigg’s Killer Whales T023C’s. Yesterday we had a report of Killer Whales at Indian Island. John and I jumped into the Eco and went up to have a look. We met up with the whales traveling at Windy Bay with Howie on the Goolka. T023 and T023D’s booked it out Browning Passage and through the Tofino Harbour, then headed out past Lennard Light and down the coast. We observed T023D with her two calves plus the matriarch Janice, aka T023.

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A Rare Visit from the T050s Killer Whales near Tofino!

A Rare Visit from the T050s Killer Whales near Tofino!

On Thursday evening we got a report that there were Killer Whales off Hippie Point. John and Howie headed out in the Eco at 5:30 pm. They came across a gang of Transient Killer Whales between Monks and Hippie Point. They followed the whales to Saranac Island and then back to Roberts Point. The T050’s were spy hopping and traveling. They spent about an hour with these Killer Whales. Tim on the Hootka Kootla was on his way back from Hot Springs Cove and was able to get a few looks of the gang too!

We don’t see the T050’s often in Tofino. The last time we photographed them was October 2015. This gang like to work the inlets and have been successful hunters while visiting Tofino. These Killer Whales are more frequently seen in Alaskan waters.

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Killer Whales up Tofino Inlet (T023C's)

Killer Whales up Tofino Inlet (T023C's)

The T023C Killer Whales make an appearance in Tofino today!

Early this morning I was drinking my tea and getting ready for a busy Saturday when I got a text from our Guide Tim Tom that a gang of Killer Whales were passing his window at Opitsaht. All my Saturday plans changed. John and I headed down to the Eco to set out up Browning Passage to find them. Tim had jumped into his boat and was with the T023C’s when we arrived on scene. We followed the orcas up Browning Passage, into Tofino Inlet where they led us up Tranquil. Along the way they tangled with a sea lion but left it alone after a few breaches.

The T023C’s have broken off from T023’s, aka Motley Crew. T023C was born in 1990 and she appears to have three calves (born in 2009, 2013 and a new one that looks like it was born in the last year or more.

The last time we saw the T023C’s was in May 2016 and they were still with the Matriarch T023. They all took the same path of coming through the Tofino Harbour and headed up Tofino Inlet.

Both the morning and afternoon Whale Watching Tours were able to get out to see the Killer Whales!

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SPRING WHALE WATCHING IN TOFINO

Each spring, some 20,000 Gray Whales travel passed the western shore of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, en route to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea and Chukchi Sea. The 30-ton giants can be seen on our Tofino Whale Watching Tours, as early as February, with females and calves passing by from mid March, through April and into early May. Tofino will see Grey Whales from March through to November due to the migration and the “local” whales that stay for the summer to feed. These Grey Whales return year after year to “summer” in Clayoquot Sound.

The Gray Whales return in the fall by the same route to their calving and wintering grounds in the warm-water lagoons of Baja California in Mexico. They usually travel faster and farther offshore than on the southbound leg of their migration. The 16,000 to 22,500-km round trip – depending on how far north they go – is one of the longest migrations of any mammal on earth. The whales travel throughout the day and night, and cover approximately 120 kms (75 miles) per day at an average speed of 8 kms per hour (5 miles).

The Whale Centre offers daily Whale Watching Tours at 10:30 am and 2:00 pm. July and August we add a 5:00 pm Whale Watching Tour! For more info please read about the Tofino Whale Watching Tour or Book Here.

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Grey Whale, Tofino Whale Watching Tour, Photo: John Forde

Grey Whale, Tofino Whale Watching Tour, Photo: John Forde

TOFINO BEAR WATCHING TOURS

TOFINO BEAR WATCHING TOURS

Our Bear Watching Tours for 2019 will start up mid-April from Tofino. The Black Bears will be waking up from winter hibernation hungry and looking to forage on the coastline. Vancouver Island has the highest density of black bears in North America, and a total estimated population of 12,000. 

Unlike whale watching, which ventures out on the open ocean's waves, bear watching is done from covered vessel with a viewing deck, or open Boston Whaler boat on the calm inside waters in and around Tofino Inlet. This is where black bears can be witnessed at low tide, as they approach the shore on their quest for nutritious shore crabs by turning over beach boulders and rocks. 

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TOFINO'S HOT SPRINGS COVE: How to have this West Coast experience

TOFINO'S HOT SPRINGS COVE: How to have this West Coast experience

Hot Springs CoveHot Springs Cove lies 26 nautical miles up the coast from Tofino at Maquinna Provincial Park. For thousands of years, natural thermal hot springs have poured out of the rocks and spilled out on the edge of the Pacific Ocean in Northern Clayoquot Sound.

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Southern Resident Killer Whales - K Pod was here!

We had the Southern Resident Killer Whales K Pod on all our Whale Watching Tours yesterday! I manifested orcas the night before because I knew we had guests on board who really, really wanted to see Killer Whales. The whales were picked up coming down the coast near Hot Springs Cove and we were able to see them off Cleland Island. John and I knew they were SRKW but we were not sure which pod they were. We don't see these whales very often! We were able to get some photo identification shots with our permit. The killer whales were last seen traveling down the coast, likely back to the Salish Sea! 

Afterwards we sent the photos to Ken Balcomb at the Centre for Whale Research in Washington state. He confirmed they were K Pod! With only 18 members, K Pod is the smallest of the three pods in the Southern Resident Killer Whale community. The  oldest female in K pod is K12, estimated to have been born in 1972. K pod has three mature males, K21, and K26, and K25.  The most recent calf born into K pod is K44 (male, born 2011), the first known calf of K27.

As with most marine mammals, their movements are determined by their food source. For the Southern Residents, this means following the salmon returning to the Fraser River in British Columbia every summer. In the winter, when Chinook salmon are less abundant, they  must expand their range to find food. 

SRKW Status: Endangered. Designated endangered in Canada in 2001, USA in 2005. 

Please note that when we are photographing killer whales with our permit we do not have paying guests on board and we send our photo IDs to DFO, Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society and the Center for Whale Research. 

Southern Resident Killer Whales, K Pod, Tofino
Tofino Whale Watching Tour 
Tofino Whale Watching Tour