Traffic came to a standstill Friday morning in Victoria’s Inner Harbour when an orca was spotted in the waterway.
Capt. Jackie Cowan, owner of local whale watching and marine adventure company, Ocean Earth Adventures, was on her ship in the Wharf Street marina when her friend spotted the whale, prompting her to grab her camera and get a couple shots.
“He came in along the shoreline by Laurel Point, then headed towards the causeway before turning around and going the way he came,” she said.
The whale has been identified by two experts as TO65A2, a transient orca male born in 2004. TO65A2 is also known as Ooxjaa, which means “windy” in the Tlingit language.
Marty Goliath, a local whale watching captain said he’d seen the whale recently in Cowichan Bay.
Cowan said she had a suspicion she’d see whales in the harbour soon, after seeing especially low tides. Around the same time last year a pod of orcas was spotted in the Inner Harbour when waters were also low, she said.
Josh McInnes, a marine mammal scientist and research coordinator with the Transient Killer Whale Project by Marine Life Studies, said the visit probably has more to do with the season than the water levels.
“All of the harbour seals, which are transient whales’ main prey, are having their pups right now so we usually see a huge spike in transient sightings,” McInnes said. “It’s not uncommon to see, there’s been a few occurrences of transients coming into the Inner Harbour.”
McInnes said that once the transient whale has hunted in an area it heads elsewhere pretty quickly.
“Transients are real roamers, being a top predator they don’t stay in one area too long because harbour seals will know they’re in the area,” McInnes said.
Transient orcas can travel more than 100 km in a day, and spend up to 90 per cent of their time foraging and traveling.
TO65A2 is the second calf of matriarch TO65, who has given birth to six surviving orcas.
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