In this blog I would like to talk a bit more about other wildlife in Canada, more particularly Salish Sea life and what/who else is involved….

 

 

So, let’s start with:

100% Natural Whales of the Salish Sea:

During the months of April through to the beginning of October the salmon populations migrate through the Southern Vancouver Island area on their way to the spawning grounds. During these months, our resident Killer Whales spend much of their time around Victoria and San Juan Islands feeding on the natural abundance of salmon, one of their principal diet sources.

Our extensive spotting network and years of experience in locating the whales ensures a very high success rate for our tours. Apart from Orcas we also see Minke whales, Gray whales and an increasing number of Humpback whales. This rich diversity of cetaceans is why Victoria offers some of the best whale watching in the world! The Salish Sea (the area of water surrounding Southern Vancouver and the San Juan Islands) attracts a variety of diverse types of whales. They are attracted to the local waters due to the abundance of food. Orcas or killer whales are the most famous visitors to the Salish Sea but are not the only type of whales that can be frequently spotted in the Salish Sea.

 

Learn more about Marine Mammals as there are several Salish Sea species to speak about like Dolphins, Seals, Otters and more (search & google these if you like) :

Have a closer look at the photo/video gallery here:


Dall’s Porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli)

This uniquely marked, black and white porpoise was named after the American naturalist W. H. Dall, who collected the first specimen of the type, which is now on display in the U. S. National Museum. It may be the fastest swimmer of all the small cetaceans and has been reported to reach speeds of 30 knots (55 kph). It delights in bow riding with fast-moving vessels.  Dall’s porpoise has an extremely robust and muscular body. This cetacean is quite small, averaging 6 feet (1.8 m) for males with a maximum length of 7.5 feet (2.29m). Females average 6 feet (1.8 m) with a maximum length of 7 feet (2.1m). Weight averages 270 pounds (123 kg) for both males and females. Possible maximum weight is about 350 pounds (160 kg). Dall’s porpoise eats a wide variety of prey species, depending on what’s available within its range. In some areas it eats squid, but in other areas it may feed on small schooling fishes such as capelin, sardines, herring, lantern fish, hake and deep-sea smelt.

Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena Phocoena)

One of the smallest of the oceanic cetaceans the Harbor Porpoise is shy and elusive, not inclined to approach boats and bow ride, as many other species of dolphins and porpoises do. On calm days these animals can be easily detected by the loud puffing sound they make as they surface to breathe… Maximum length is 6 feet (1.9 m) with a maximum weight of approximately 200 pounds (90 kg). The harbor porpoise eats non-spiny fishes such as herring, cod, whiting, squid, pollock, and sardines.

Pacific White Sided Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens)

Often referred to as a “lag” because of its cumbersome scientific name, Lagenorhynchus. Pacific white-sided dolphins are medium sized dolphins reaching up to 8 feet (2.5 m) in length and weighs 300 pounds (140kg). . They are considered robust animals, with a large and strongly falcate (curved or hooked) dorsal fin. They have a small and unnoticeable beak, unlike bottlenose or common dolphins. Pacific white-sided dolphins have a distinct color pattern: they are dark gray or black on their back, sides and belly but have a striking large gray or off-white patch on both sides. Pacific white-sided dolphins are found in cold, temperate waters of the North Pacific Ocean from North America to Asia. Pacific white-sided dolphins are gregarious and often found in large groups of tens, hundreds and sometimes thousands. They are fast, acrobatic and playful and are one of the species commonly found bow-riding off boats. These dolphins are often seen with other cetaceans, including Northern right whale dolphins and Risso’s dolphins. “Lag’s” are known to eat a variety of creatures including squid, anchovies, hake and other small fish.

Pacific Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina)

Harbor Seals have spotted coats in a variety of shades ranging from silver gray to black or dark brown. Maximum length is six feet (1.7-1.9m) and weighs up to 300 pound (140 kg). Males are slightly larger than females. They are true or crawling seals, with no external ear flaps and their small flippers mean they must move on land by flopping along on their bellies. Harbor Seals are opportunistic feeders, eating sole, flounder, sculpin, hake, cod herring, octopus and squid.

Northern Elephant Seal (Mirounga angustirostris)

The northern elephant seal is the second largest seal in the world, after the southern elephant seal. Northern elephant seals are found in the North Pacific, from Baja California, Mexico to the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands. During the breeding season, they live on beaches on offshore islands and a few remote spots on the mainland. The rest of the year, except for molting periods, elephant seals live well off shore (up to 5,000 miles, or 8,000 km), commonly descending to over 5,000 feet (1,524 m) below the ocean’s surface. Adult males may grow to over 13 feet (4 m) in length and weigh up to 4,500 pounds (2,000 kg). The females are much smaller at 10 feet (3 m) in length and 1,500 pounds (600 kg). It is believed that they eat deep-water, bottom-dwelling marine animals such as ratfish, swell sharks, spiny dogfish, eels, rockfish, and squid. Elephant seals molt each year between April and August, shedding not only their hair but also the upper layer of their skin as well. This is known as a catastrophic molt.

California Sealions (Zalophus californianus)

California Sealions range from chocolate brown in males to a lighter, golden brown in females. California sea lions are known for their intelligence, playfulness, and noisy barking.Males may reach 1000 pounds (more often 850 lbs., or 390 kg) and seven feet (2.1m) in length. Females grow up to 220 lbs (110kg) and up to six feet (1.8m) in length. California sea lions are found from Vancouver Island, British Columbia to the southern tip of Baja California in Mexico. They are opportunistic eaters, feeding on squid, octopus, herring, rockfish, mackerel, and small sharks. Adult males have a visible sagittal crest (the bump on the top of their heads).

 


Steller Sealion (Eumetopias jubatus)

Steller or Northern sea lions are much larger and lighter in color than California sea lions. Males may grow up to 11 feet (3.25m) in length and weigh almost 2,500 pounds (1120kg). Females are much smaller, and may grow to nine feet (2.9m) in length and weigh 1000 pounds (350kg). They have a blunt face and a boxy, bear-like head. Adult male Stellers have a bulky build and a very thick neck with longer fur that resembles a lion’s mane, hence the name “sea lion.” Stellers are found throughout the North Pacific Rim from Japan to central California. Steller sea lions eat a variety of fishes, invertebrates, and occasionally other pinnipeds.

Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)

Sea otters are members of the weasel family and are the smallest marine mammal. Adult females weigh 35-60 pounds (16-27kg); males reach up to 90 pounds (40kg). Alaskan sea otters are bigger with males weighing up to 100 pounds (45kg). It preys mostly upon marine invertebrates such as sea urchins, various molluscs and crustaceans, and some species of fish. They are still rarely seen off Victoria but have become a familiar site on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

River Otter (Lontra canadensis)

This stocky, muscular, amphibious member of the weasel family is distributed throughout most of North America, except the Far North. They attain a maximum length of about 1.4 m (4.5 ft.) and a weight of about 13.5 kg (30 lb.). Northern river otters have thick lustrous fur. Wary in the wild, they are, nonetheless, sociable, docile, playful animals and easily domesticated. They prefer life on the shores of deep, clear rivers, lakes, large marshes and ocean bays. Their diet consists mainly of fish, but they also eat insects, frogs, and sometimes, small mammals such as muskrats. Primarily nocturnal, otters remain active year-round.

 

Last but not least, the equally important and wide variety of West Coast Marine Birds,

 

 

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Habitat: on or near seacoasts, also near large lakes/rivers when fish are available
Around large trees for nesting in
Feeding: feeds on fish, carrion and occasionally waterfowl.
Primarily fish eaters
Resort to piracy of other eagles food
Reproduction/Nesting: eagles mate for life, and bonds are renewed each year with spectacular courtship
Large nests are added to yearly, more than one nest (1 km of each other)
High in trees, 3 – 45 m off the ground
Incubation by both sexes, ~ 35 days
7000 feathers.
The name Bald comes from the old English word for White.

Immature until adult, juvenile with first coat of feathers, Basic I, II, III, IV for the following years.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

General Info: seen later in the summer and fall
Will stand on rafts of large bull kelp
Habitat: consists of wetlands close to a safe place for a heronry (nest in colonies)
Close to 10 to 15 miles, which is the distance the heron will travel from heronry
Feeding: diverse diet consisting of many types of fish, frogs, salamanders, water snakes, large insects, mice and small rodents
Feed in both fresh and marine water
Use their long necks and pointed bills to spear fish and other prey
Breeding Ecology: nest in colonies with many pairs
Nest in high trees and they are made flat with many sticks (unstable in the first but more stable later)

Common Murre (Uria aalge)

General Info: similar shape to the loons, but different plumage
Habitat: marine birds that breed on land
Winter on British Columbia coast
Breed in colonies
Feeding: feed on small fish, especially around up-welling areas (cold water currents)
Breeding Ecology: nesting on rocky islands/sea cliffs
Inaccessible rock ledges; only enough room for one egg and one parent
Long pear shaped egg
Incubate egg for 28 – 35 days
Fledglings fledge by jumping off the cliff into the sea.

Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata)

General Info: related to puffins, seen all summer long, and often seen with minkes and gulls feeding on herring balls
Habitat: spends most time in water, only on land to nest on the coastal islands
Feeding: on small fish i.e. herring
Nesting: nests in colonies, dig burrows
Lays one egg within grasses, twigs, and leaves inside the burrow
Food brought to young at night
Incubate ~ 31 days
Largest local nesting area is at Protection Island

 

Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata)

Length: 12.5 inches
Sexes similar
Immature similar to adult basic but bill is smaller and darker
Pelagic bird only coming ashore to breed
Medium to large alcid that dives for food from water surface
Entirely dark plumage,
Breeds from coastal Alaska to California, pelagic in winter
Extremely colorful bill-yellow at base and red at tip
White, triangular face patch
Yellow tufts extending from behind the eye
Similar species: The large bill separates adults from all other alcids except other puffins, both of which have white underparts. Juvenile Tufted Puffins are similar to Rhinoceros Auklets, but are rounder-headed with a slightly different bill shape.

Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba)

General Info: Distinct plumage of jet black with white wing bands, and bright red feet
Spring and early summer
Habitat: Rocky shores during breeding season, and perch on exposed rocks
Winter far off-shore
Feeding: dive for small fish
Breeding Ecology: nest in colonies or in pairs
Nest occur in rock crevices, crevices, cliff faces, or excavate burrows
Incubation done by both parents, bwt 27 – 33 days, 1 or 2 eggs laid.

Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata)

General Info: common in the fall and is the most common scoter on the Pacific coast
Habitat: nests on the tundra, therefore breeding is very short
Scoters winter on both Pacific and Atlantic coasts
Usually are far from shore
Feeding: eat mainly shellfish such as mussels
Also feed on aquatic vegetation
Breeding Ecology: nests are made in a scrape on the tundra that are lined in down (scrape is a shallow depression made by the bird)
Usually 5 – 9 eggs are laid.

Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus)

General Info: smallest of the three cormorants in the area
Almost completely black
Narrow heads and fly with straight necks
Seen individually or small numbers
Habitat: located in coastal waters and bays
Nest in colonies on rocky islands and sea cliffs
Feeding: mainly on fish through underwater pursuit
Occasionally on amphibians and crustaceans
Feed both inshore and offshore
Breeding Ecology: nest in colonies usually with other species
Rocky islands and cliffs, very narrow so land and take off facing the cliff
Usually 3 or 4 eggs, incubated by both for ~ 31 days
Flimsy nests of seaweed, feathers and debris.

Brandt’s Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus)

General Info: larger in size than the Pelagic cormorant
Heads larger and neck not as straight
Unique behaviour of flying low over the water in lines
Bright blue throat pouch when in breeding plummage
Habitat: around coastal salt water
Feeding: feed by surface diving and underwater pursuit for fish
Will dive together and form a living net
Breeding Ecology: nests constructed of seaweed, other vegetation, and other items stolen from gull’s nests
Nests on coastal cliffs, with broad enough ledge to turn around and face the sea for take off
Lays 3 – 6 eggs.

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocoraz auritus)

General Info: largest cormorant in the Strait
Also seen over fresh water
Will fly over land unlike other two cormorants mentioned
Large heads and fly with kinked necks, with longer tails than Brandt’s cormorant
Have orange throat patches year round
Habitat: require large, deep bodies of water that provide good fishing either marine or fresh water
Feeding: surface diving and underwater pursuit of fish
Breeding Ecology: only cormorant that breeds inland in the west
Nest in colonies
Nests consist of sticks, weather made on rocks, or in the trees
3-4 eggs laid, incubate ~ 24 – 29 days by both
Nests on ledges that they can turn on.

Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani)

General Info: located along the rocky shorelines
Habitat: rocky shores and islands
Feeding: use their laterally compressed bills to open oysters
Also to pry of limpets from rocks
Breeding Ecology: mating pairs undergo long courtship flights prior to mating
Nests made in depressions on rocks, lined with stone bits and shells
Incubated ~ 26 – 30 days by both sexes.

Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani)

General Info: located along the rocky shorelines
Habitat: rocky shores and islands
Feeding: use their laterally compressed bills to open oysters
Also to pry of limpets from rocks
Breeding Ecology: mating pairs undergo long courtship flights prior to mating
Nests made in depressions on rocks, lined with stone bits and shells
Incubated ~ 26 – 30 days by both sexes.

Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)

General Info: flies along the tree line uttering its distinct rattling call
Females develop the breeding plumage
Habitat: needs to be near fish inhabited waters, either fresh or salt water
Feeding behaviours need habitat to contain elevated perching places i.e. trees or posts
Nesting habitats occur in steep earthy banks
Seen year round off of British Columbia
Feeding: on an elevated perch the kingfisher keeps an eye on small fishes, it dives or hovers over water before it dives and carries the fish away
Eats beetles, grasshoppers, crickets and frogs
Breeding Ecology: horizontal burrows, with 5 – 8 eggs laid on the floor of the burrow.

California Gull (Larus californicus)

General Info: adults have round head shape, yellow-green legs, red orbital ring and dark iris
Red or black marks on yellow bill
Habitat: spends winters mostly on seacoasts
Breeding season on interior lakes/marshes
Feeding: eat insects and rodents, but also scavenge
Breeding Ecology: nests made of grass, dead weeds, and sticks
Nest in colonies on small islands in shallow inland lakes.

Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)

General Info: most widely distributed large gull with the greatest variation
Orange-yellow orbital rings, pale irises, and a redish dot (gonydeal spot) on their lower mandible, and pink feet
Habitat: winter in coastal areas, with breeding habitat on tundra, wetlands, and coasts (nesting inlets or cliff nearby)
Feeding: beach scavengers and surface fishing birds
Also eat eggs of other seabirds
Breeding Ecology: nests consist of grass or seaweed
Nest in colonies.

Bonaparte’s Gull  (Larus philadelphia)

General Info: small hooded gull that is tern-like in shape
Ocean feeders rather than coast feeding
Habitat: summer spent on lakes, while the winter is spent on the sea
Feeding: eat marine worms, insects, and crustaceans
Breeding Ecology: nests are constructed in the trees
Loose colonies.

Glaucous-winged Gulls (Larus glaucescens)

General Info: variable gull in size, proportions, and plumage
Pinkish orbital ring, a generally dark iris, and the adult had a yellow bill with a bright red spot on the lower mandible
Habitat: spends time on beaches (rocky or sandy), in harbours, dumps, and open ocean
Found year round along the coast of British Columbia
Feeding: feeds mainly along the shore, may eat a variety of dead creatures
Feed on dying fish or squid
Also eat garbage
Breeding Ecology: nests are made up of grass or seaweeds on the depressions of remote islets or headlands
Are colonial with males defending territory.

 

Now please allow me introduce my informational and inspirational source to you here: Five Star Whale Watching:

I work with this wonderful team for some years now and I can truly say that it is a real pleasure and a great learning and observing experience for me and our guests and this company as a perfect example of what Wildlife & Whale Watching is all about:

 

 


Five Star Whale Watching conducts their tours in the Salish Sea, which is one of the world’s largest and biologically rich inland seas. The wildlife that can be found here includes:

Resident (fish-eating) Orcas, Transient (Marine mammal eaters) Orcas, Humpback Whales, Gray Whales, Minke Whales, Harbor & Dall’s Porpoise, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Steller & California Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, Northern Elephant Seals and both River & Sea Otters.

The Salish Sea is the ecosystem that includes Washington State’s Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands as well as British Columbia’s Gulf Islands and the Strait of Georgia. The name recognizes and pays tribute to the first inhabitants of the region, the Coast Salish.

With its convenient and central location in the Salish Sea, Victoria is perfectly located for whale watching and why Victoria Whale Watching has been designated as one of the top 5 destinations in the world to see Whales.

 

If you are interested in Whale Conservation and helping protect the whales then click here for more information