British Columbia·Video

Northern orcas delight Prince Rupert residents

A pod of killer whales has been parading just off the shore of Prince Rupert this week, delighting locals who are gathering on shore.

'It was life changing. I'll never forget it,' says Tish Millard

Oceans watchers in Prince Rupert were delighted 0:37

A pod of orcas plying the waters off Prince Rupert on the North Coast of B.C. are delighting ocean watchers this week.

"Absolutely awesome," said Tish Millard who watched the killer whales frolic close to shore on Tuesday night.

She said a hundred people gathered near the Cow Bay Marina dock. They watched, awestruck, as the orcas breached and came right out of the water.

"It was sunset. Everyone was in a great mood, clapping and cheering. I've never seen anything like it," said Millard. 

"There were people who've lived here for decades saying they've never seen it."

"It was life-changing," she said." I'll never forget it." 

Population at risk

Northern resident killer whale population is considered a threatened species according to a 2008 report by the federal government.

The report says the orcas' small population and low reproduction rate are to blame, along with environmental contamination and physical and acoustic disturbances.

The report notes that the northern orcas have been spotted from Washington to Campbell River and Dixon Entrance in B.C. and as far north as Glacier Bay, Alaska.

A pod of killer whales delighted Prince Rupert ocean watchers this week. (Tish Millard)

Despite being at risk, the number of northern orcas has been increasing since 2003 and their appearance off B.C.'s North Coast has often made headlines in recent years.

In July, 2015, an orca stranded on rocks was kept alive for eight hours by a dedicated team of whale researchers and volunteers near Hartley Bay. The killer whale eventually made it back to the sea and was reunited with its pod.

In 2014, a family's YouTube video of an orca pod hunting sea lions right next to their boat went viral.

And this week in Prince Rupert, a pod of killer whales is simply inspiring delight.

With files from CBC's Daybreak North and George Baker.

To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: Orca pod delights killer whale watchers on North Coast.

About the Author

Betsy Trumpener

Reporter-Editor, CBC News

Betsy Trumpener has won numerous national and provincial journalism awards, including a national network award for radio documentary. Based out of Prince George, B.C., Betsy has reported on everything from hip hop in Tanzania to B.C.'s energy industry and the Paralympics.


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