On February 8th, 2018, Lennie and I got a report of transient orcas in Millar Channel across from Ahousaht. I had some work to finish up in the village so we agreed to meet at the dock in an hour.
By the time we found them, they were at the very head of Herbert Inlet. They had travelled a long distance in just a short amount of time. The day was beautiful and sunny. The waters were glassy calm.
When we got on scene there were two groups in the area. The T11’s were milling at the edge of the head of the inlet. We stayed with them for a little bit, but the larger group of whales, further in, were quite active. So we slowly creeped our way closer to them. We stopped about 200 meters out and shut off our engines. There was no wind. Not even a ripple on the water. I ended up taking off a couple jackets because it was so warm!
There was tons of action among the T109A’s before they started moving down the shoreline towards us.
We were pretty darn sure there was a new fin in the group that hadn’t been there for the 15 minutes prior.
And here’s the little one, next to mom?
Look at that little face! The new calf was making some huge leaps out of the water after they first appeared, learning how to take a breath above the surface.
T109A2A (Born 2016) surfacing – The second youngest in the group.
T109A pushing the new calf.
T109A pushing the new calf. You can just see its soft, flexible fin and blowhole in this photo. As it grows, the fin will become sturdier.
The new calf takes a breath.
I just missed the best shot of this sequence – Chasing a duck!
Eventually both pods grouped up again and they all began travelling out of the inlet together, sticking tight to the shoreline.
We followed the pod around to Whitepine Cove where they headed towards the back of the cove to shelter from the tidal chop that had picked up in Herbert Inle. We left them here to presumably hunt and rest (We’ve seen the T109A’s kill a porpoise in this very spot!). A few days later, we saw them again travelling from Atleo River in Millar Channel to Herbert Inlet. They were staying close with a new baby in tow.
(Note: I have talked to Jared Towers and Rod Palm. Both suspect that we did see the end of a live birth and a new calf. However this calf has not yet been officially recorded or the mother confirmed – to my knowledge. This account is our anecdotal encounter with the pod and observations of the behaviour we witnessed.)