British Columbia

Transient orca population counted in big numbers off Vancouver Island

Transient Orcas are being counted in big numbers off the coast of Vancouver Island and a new baby has been spotted, suggesting that this population is now making itself very much at home in B.C. waters.

Growth in their prey credited for rising population

A transient calf was spotted alongside its mother T-65A by Eagle Wing Whale Watching last week. (Eagle Wing Whale Watching)

Transient Orcas are being counted in big numbers off the coast of Vancouver Island and a new baby has been spotted, suggesting that this population is now making itself very much at home in B.C. waters.

"There's no question we have more transients in the waters of southern Vancouver Island than we have had before," says Dr. Anna Hall, a B.C. marine biologist.

The growth in their prey — mainly harbour seals and sea lions — has been credited for the rise in transients, also known as Biggs killer whales. Whale watchers also say many transient whales are staying all year long and teaching their young to do the same, which is a promising sign for the orca population in the province.

"If there's a hot key spot for food, naturally they're going to share that information with the next generation of animal in their family groups," says Brett Soberg of Eagle Wing Whale Watching. 

The growth in their prey — mainly harbour seals and sea lions — has been credited for the rise in transient orcas. (Eagle Wing Whale Watching)
 
Last week, a transient calf was spotted alongside its mother T-65A by Eagle Wing Whale Watching.

"There was a new baby last week, very cute. I just wanted to give him a big hug," Soberg said. "That is a very rare sighting."

Experts also say the increase in transient orcas doesn't appear to pose any threat to B.C.'s small population of southern resident killer whales. 

"They seem to divide up the resources quite well. Transients are focused on marine mammals whereas southern residents are focused on fish," Hall says. 

With files from CHEK News

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