Anyone lucky enough to be on the Ogden Point breakwater on Thursday afternoon was treated to a whale of a show, courtesy of a mother orca and her two sons.
Also taking in the action was a tour group from Five Star Whale Watching that happened to be motoring by about 5:15 p.m.
The company’s Andrew Lees, a marine naturalist, snapped pictures and shot a video of the unusual sight of orcas hugging the shore.
“It’s pretty rare for us to see that,” said Lees.
He recognized the orcas as a family of transient whales through the mother’s dorsal fin and saddle patch. Both are common means of identification.
“One of the other boats had just spotted them and they called us, and they were right there at the harbour entrance. Amazing.”
Lees said Five Star tour-goers saw the extra show after returning from a productive tour that included sightings of resident orcas and a humpback whale.
The three orcas’ proximity to shore wasn’t cause to worry about their safety, he said.
“Most of the time they’re very aware of what’s around them,” he said. “They’re transient and they’re just following the coastline.”
Lees noted that September is one of the prime months for whale watching.
“We get the orcas coming quite a bit and also the humpbacks moving down from Alaska,” Lee said.
“They come in and they start feeding off Victoria, as well.”
Lees said the orcas visiting Ogden Point had come from the other side of the harbour before settling in by the breakwater.
He said they were there for 10 to 15 minutes and probably enjoyed looking at the people who were looking at them.
“Humans aren’t food for them, but they’re a curious animal.”