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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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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TOFINO KILLER WHALES - U073 Killer Whales of Lennard Lighthouse

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.