Killer Whales (Orcas)
“As we made our way through the hidden entrance to Gambier Bay, I scanned the shoreline with my binoculars for bears. What was that in the water? Suddenly, these black triangular fins rose above the surface, then smoothly disappeared. Soon there were more, thirteen in all. Within minutes, anchored and the crew launched the skiffs.. We moved closer to the orcas and followed them for an hour as they hunted each arm of the bay.
As we moved quietly with them, our guide told us all about them. We learned that they travel in family groups and that youngsters stay with their mothers for most of their lives. We also learned how they are an important part of native legends. This was not your normal day at the office. It was inspiring.”
Orcas travel unpredictably in Alaska, but are seen throughout the summer. However, in Johnstone Straight area of British Columbia, two hundred orcas make an annual visit from June to September to feed on salmon. Here orca sightings are common.
Reaching 26 feet in length orcas are the largest of the dolphins and porpoises. They are readily identified by their size, their striking black and white bodies, and the six foot tall male dorsal fin. Orcas are very social, living in family groups called pods. There are at least two distinct types of orcas–residents and transients. These two groups are distinguished by their diet, range, and vocalizations. Residents prefer fish, while transients feed on marine mammals, fish, and on occasion, even a giant humpback whale!
Our 4th trip to Alaska and this was the icing on the cake! It was a week of “best evers”—best claming—best crabbing—the best shrimping—best sea lion activity—right up to the boat—marvelous whale activity—fabulous orca pods—and 8 days with sunshine!!
We loved the trip!
Jon and Ann S.