I have been spending a lot of time checking Fritz Cove for our two winter whales. I expect them to be gone every time I go there, but am always happy to see they are still in the area. I once again found Flame and False Butterfly feeding, along with many sea lions.
I did a quick check of Fritz Cove and found two humpbacks in the area. I was able to get a photo of SEAK-2136, False Butterfly.
I was headed to Fritz Cove when I heard that there were orcas in the area. I quickly got out there and immediately found them right next to shore just off from the road. They had a group of sea lions pinned against the shore, although I believe that is a defensive tactic for the sea lions; move into shallow water. We could see the bottom where the sea lions were. That is how close they were to shore and the orcas were just out from them. It was quite the sight. However, I made the mistake of getting out of my car and attempting to follow them along the road on foot. They were moving way too fast for me to keep up. By the time I made it back to my car and attempted to catch up with them, they were gone.
The orcas I photographed have been identified as the T064s. There was a larger group that passed by that I was unable to get photos of. Judging from a video I saw that a friend had taken, there were at least ten orcas in the area. I was able to get photos of three.
I did notice at least two humpbacks in the area; however, I did not get any photos of them.
I did a quick check of Fritz Cove to see if the humpbacks were still in the area. I immediately noticed two whales swimming together. I was shocked that it was Flame and False Butterfly. I have never seen Flame swimming with another whale other than her calves. I have found her in the same area with other whales but never swimming with them. She has always struck me as a bit of a loner. I am not sure how long they remained together, but it was interesting to see.
From shore I found Flame and False Butterfly still near Fritz Cove. I spotted another whale closer to Coghlan Island. It was too far away to identify.
From shore I observed Flame and False Butterfly along with dozens of sea lions. This is the first time I have seen False Butterfly without Twin Peaks.
Humpbacks continue in Fritz Cove (from our boat). Flame was alone while False Butterfly and Twin Peaks continue to travel together.
We decided to check out the whale activity in Fritz Cove from our boat. We found Flame along with three other whales. Two of the whales (Twin Peaks and False Butterfly) were traveling together, while Flame and Nibblet were off by themselves. We left the area and headed toward Saginaw Channel. The water ended up getting rough so we headed back towards Auke Bay and encountered a pod of orcas near Spuhn Island. We watched as they headed towards Fritz Cove. We knew they were transients and expected them to go after one of the many sea lions or even harass one of the humpbacks in the area. They were pretty elusive and seemed to be heading towards Shaman Island when we lost sight of them. We briefly looked for them, but they simply vanished. We left the area thinking they were gone. Close to two hours later we stopped by Fritz Cove and found them again. I am thinking they went into stealth mode and began hunting sea lions causing us to lose sight of them earlier in the day. When we saw them later in the day, it was obvious they had successfully made a kill based on their behavior and the bird activity in the area.
Photos are super cropped and super grainy. It was nearly dark when we saw them the second time, and they were super elusive the first time we saw them.