The sun showed up. The whales showed up. The bears showed up… and more!
I came into work expecting a pretty normal day; it turned into anything other than that. Word on the street (and in the ocean) is that 3 sperate pods of transient orcas were in the Tofino Inlet yesterday, and apparently they stayed around all night. The sun was shinning and as I was able to leave the office in the very capable hands of our newest addition to the team, Kayla, I hopped aboard WASCO.
After checking out the eagles across the harbour, we began our journey up Fortune Channel. Within 15 minutes Tim began motoring towards a tiny bay which looked like it was going nowhere with nothing in eyesight. I questioned what Tim had up his sleeve but as we got closer a few black spots began to move. He’d spotted a mother bear with 2 cubs and we were able to pull the boat up within 15 feet of them as they foraged for food along the beach.
At first one of the cubs seemed a little apprehensive of us being there, but once he or she realized we were of no threat, it continued to prioritize food over fear. We stayed with the bears for about 10 minutes, and then moved on to search for Orcas.
Tim got a call over the radio and we moved further up the Inlet with reports of wolves in the area. Although the wolves were not as keen to stick around as the bears had been, it was my first time seeing a wolf in the wild and left me speechless. Tim then turned the boat around and moved a few hundred feet in the direction we’d just come from and within 5 minutes we’d spotted our first pod of Orcas.
I’ve seen orcas in captivity and in the wild and they are always amazing creatures to be in the presence of. However, this particular day was probably one of the best whale sightings I’ve ever seen. As we were in the Inlet with no swell and very little
wind it was a glassy as could be on the water. So glassy, that from up top of WASCO, looking down you could see the orcas in the water before they surfaced. We followed a very large male and a smaller female for 15-20 minutes as they headed south towards Tofino.
After leaving the bull, Tim continued further north towards the top of Meares Island searching for another pod. The pod we found comprised of 5 females heading north towards the top of Warn Bay apparently looking for food. It seemed that the ladies were perusing a very specific route, but would stop every 10 minutes or so and remain in the same place. Tim suggested that they were probably feasting on something, and I later learned that earlier in the day they had been chasing a harbour porpoise. Perhaps a sadder side of mother nature, but necessary for the survival of the transient population.
All in all, life things were pretty amazing on the Tofino Inlet that day. I can now check off working on my tan while checking out Orca’s off the bucket list!