On Thursday, March 29th we got word that there was a group of Transient Killer Whales off Lennard Lighthouse near Tofino. Our afternoon Whale Watching Tour was able to get some good looks at about 8 killer whales. John and I decided to head out on the Eco to get some photos ID's to see who they were. When we arrived on scene we immediately recognized the T068's with about 6 other killer whales.
The T068's have been in the news recently for being documented for the first time drowning and killing an infant of the same species. The researchers who watched the orca infanticide as it unfolded off the northeastern coast of Vancouver Island on Dec. 2, 2016, published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports this week.
When we arrived the whales were milling in the same spot for the 60 minutes that we spent with them. They were tail slapping and spy hopping. One whale swam by the boat with seal meat hanging out of its mouth. John and I were able to get several good ID shots of these gangs. When we left the whales they were still in the same spot just milling about.
After going through our photos we did not recognize these whales. We reached out to Jared Towers, a researcher from Fisheries and Oceans who identified this gang as the U073's. This group has never been properly photographed. We were pretty excited to have had the opportunity to spend time with a new (to us) group of whales and were able to get some good photo ID's of them.