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The 2012 season is over….

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Today is our last tour of the 2012 season and although we are sad to see it end, we have been very fortunate to have had some really fantastic and unique sightings throughout the year. 2012 was not a great year for our Fraser River Chinook salmon (the resident Killer Whale’s favourite food) so we had fewer sightings of our residents this year and they were often seen travelling in smaller groups. These smaller groups indicate that the whale’s were not finding enough food to support very large congregations of animals. However, this fall we have seen more of the residents including a number of days with a Southern Resident Superpod of around 90 animals. In the fall the Orca also feed on Chum salmon and this was a good year for chum with over 2 million running up the Fraser in October, bringing lots of animals to Georgia Strait and Puget Sound.

It is safe to say that 2012 was the year of the Transient Killer Whale. They were sighted more frequently than in past years and they were seen in larger groups, often with multiple pods joining together, socializing and hunting in big packs. We saw them hunting porpoises, seals and sea lions. The surface activity we observed and the vocalizations heard over the hydrophone changed our stereotype of these animals as quiet, stealth and shy.

The Fall months also brought some great sightings of the seasonal visitors to the Salish Sea. We got the chance to spend some time with large groups of Pacific White-Sided dolphins up in Howe Sound during October. We found groups of 100+ dolphins actively bow-riding and leaping acrobatically out of the water, as if they were putting on a show just for our boat. We also spent one day with a nursery group of dolphins, although not as acrobatic, we saw many moms with their adorable little calves! Many Humpback whales were also seen throughout the end of September and October. We saw them lunge-feeding, breaching and slapping their huge pectoral fins and tails down on the water. All in all it has been an amazing season and we can’t wait to do it all again next year! Hope you can join us!!

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