Orcas near Galiano Island
J-Pod and L-Pod wound up travelling together through Active Pass not far from Galiano Island in the Strait of Georgia on Sunday. The Vancouver Aquarium told CBC News that the killer whales, happy creatures by nature, enjoy the tides and active water of the area, the same area B.C. Ferries travels through.
Active Pass and the opportunity to socialize had the orcas particularily lively and their joyful antics were caught rather nicely on film by Gary Cullen, who posted a video on the internet. He and many others watched the orcas play and swim about in unison, happy to get a rare glimpse of so many whales enjoying one another’s company.
“They just seemed to be having a good time,” Cullen said. “It was a pretty social party they were having.”
Killer whales on West Coast
Along with the occasional transient pod, there are three resident orca pods that live in the waters of B.C. and Washington state. The third is referred to as K-pod; there are occasions when all three are together and when it happens it’s called a Super Pod. With the recent birth of four calves the pods now total 81 whales and their future survival is more hopeful.
J-Pod alone had a birth in December and in February.
The mortality rate is high for orcas and it takes months for the calves to be out of danger but these appear to have made it. Orcas in the area are considered endangered and biologists say they will be until they return to a population of 120 whales.
Orcas live on a diet of Chinook salmon, with Chum, Coho and other fish included. In recent years some members of the local pods have starved to death due to a shortage of fish.
Meanwhile, there are more transient orca pods being seen in B.C. waters and two transient pods have been known to welcome a new calf recently, one just last week. They can co-exist with the southern resident population as the transient pods do not focus on fish for their diet but on marine animals like seals and sea lions.
“There’s no question we have more transients in the waters of southern Vancouver Island than we have had before,” marine biologist Dr. Anna Hall said.