A pod of transient killer whales were filmed hunting porpoises off of Pender Island last week. (File photo)

Whales hunting porpoises off Vancouver Island thrill tourists

Pod spotted hunting porpoises near Pender Island caught on video

Watching a pod of transient killer whales hunting porpoises close to Pender Island last week was a thrill for Simon Pidcock and his clients.

Pidcock, owner of Cowichan Bay’s Ocean Ecoventures Whale Watching, came across several of the large and intelligent meat-eating mammals while out on his tour boat.

The whales began breaching out of the water as they tried to corral and toss the much smaller porpoises in the air in their apparently successful efforts to stun and kill them before they could be eaten.

Pidcock said he began taking a video of the melee as the whales tossed, turned and breached as they knocked the porpoises out of the water, sometimes within just a couple of hundred metres from his tour boat.

“We were lucky enough to be there to witness it,” he said.

“We don’t see this happen every day when we’re out there with our customers, but we always hope each time.”

Pidcock has been taking people on whale-watching tours for 16 years in the area and said the number of the transient, also called Bigg’s, killer whales in the Straight of Georgia has increased considerably over that time.

Pods of fish-eating resident killer whales dominated the strait for decades and their meat-eating cousins were much less common in the region.

But the number of transients have been steadily increasing since the 1960s when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada discontinued its bounty on harbour seals, one of the killer whale’s main prey species, in which it paid $5 per seal in an effort to minimize their effect on commercial fisheries.

RELATED STORY: ENTANGLED KILLER WHALE SAVED OFF B.C. COAST

There were fewer than 4,000 harbour seals in the strait when the bounty was discontinued, but their numbers have increased more than 10-fold since then, returning the harbour seal population to its historical levels and drawing in more transient killer whales to feed on them.

One day last week, four transient whales were spotted and filmed making an extremely rare visit to Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

“All the seals and sea lions now in the area are a real smorgasbord for the transient killer whales,” Pidcock said.

“Folks are coming from all over the world to see these encounters, but we’re not trying to encourage any false expectations. We can sometimes be on the water all day and not see any action at all.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

Langley MP pledges support for stranded adopting families

Mark Warawa said he will pressure the minister of immigration on the issue.

Abbotsford mayor to seek meeting with agriculture minister to discuss lack of industrial land

Proposed meeting follows rejection of request to remove 200 hectares from Agricultural Land Reserve

Kids learn how to sew in Row by Row program

Program starts June 21, including at Abbotsford shop

Abbotsford teen wants to use Miss Teen BC competition to raise awareness about type 1 diabetes

Miss Teen BC recognizes women across BC for their personal accomplishments and community involvement

VIDEO: B.C.’s ‘unicycle cowboy’ aspires to be rancher one day

Burklan Johnson has only ridden a horse once, but this unicyclist has big plans to become a cowboy.

UPDATED: Crown appeals B.C. polygamous leader’s acquittal in child bride case

James Oler had been charged with taking his underage daughter to the U.S. to marry her off

Housing would cut number of B.C.’s vulnerable re-admitted to hospital: study

New SFU work shows just how costly frequent hospitalization is to the province’s health care system

Disney production filming at Government House on Vancouver Island

Made-for-TV movie will feature the inside of the Victoria mansion

RCMP seek owner of pianos found in Richmond warehouse

The instruments range in size from small uprights to concert grands

3 dead after semi-truck collides with car on B.C. Interior highway

Police said the intersection between Highway 97 and Highway 99 would remain closed for some time

Keep your pets safe while driving

ICBC and SPCA join forces on pet safety awareness initiative

Cultus Lake Park Board nixes controversial off-leash dog swim area

Board responds to vocal opposition and petition against the unfenced area at Main Beach

B.C.’s children are at risk, says child sex trafficking watchdog

Cathy Peters traverses the province trying to rid B.C. of child sex trafficking

Most Read