A family of transient orcas put on a show for passengers aboard a large BC Ferries vessel this weekend.
Video of the encounter shows at least six transient orcas swimming in Active Pass near a BC Ferries vessel sailing between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen on Sunday afternoon.
Rachelle Hayden, a marine naturalist with environmental group Salish Sea Orca Squad, recorded the video while she was on Mary Anne Point Road on Galiano Island.
Hayden lives in an area overlooking Active Pass, which flows between southern Galiano Island and northern Mayne Island.
“So we actually see orcas and other whales often, especially in Active Pass,” she told CTV News.
Neighbours had given Hayden a heads up that orcas were entering the waterway, so she had her camera ready.
“Right away we identified them as Biggs killer whales, which are the ones that eat mammals and not salmon,” she said.
The whales entered the pass and hunted down some seals, according to Hayden. After that, they looped back around and exited the same way they entered.
“I had a really good view, I saw the orcas coming around the corner,” she said.
At the same time, a BC Ferries vessel was traversing through Active Pass.
“The ferry already knew that the orcas were coming into the pass because there were other vessels in the pass and they always communicate,” said Hayden.
She says the ferry did a good job of slowing down, and that passengers flocked to the side of the vessel to catch a glimpse of the orcas.
“We observe BC Ferries all the time in Active [Pass] with the whales, and they do a really good job of trying to slow down for mammals and whales,” she said.
In this instance, Hayden says the ferry was moving with the direction of the current, so the crew did its best to slow down without endangering other vessels or passengers on board.
“By observation, it didn’t seem like the whales were in distress at all,” she said.
The orcas were spotted early Sunday afternoon. (Salish Sea Orca Squad)Hayden believes the orcas caught on video were part of the T49 family. She says another group of orcas was there earlier in the day and that two groups briefly crossed paths, though this wasn’t captured in video.