Sooke News Mirror
VICTORIA — Paul Pudwell, the owner of Sooke Whale Watching, doesn’t expect to see large numbers of whales gathering in the region’s waters this late in the season, but that changed earlier this month.
“I was just east of the Race Rocks lighthouse at around 11 a.m. [Nov. 4] when I spotted them,” Pudwell said.
“These animals are so amazing you just never get tired of watching them. And seeing this many together, this late in the season, it was spectacular.”
Pudwell estimated that about 20 humpback whales were gathered in the area, and he speculated that they were probably taking advantage of a large amount of herring and other baitfish in that area.
“It’s like someone rung the dinner bell and they all came for a meal,” Pudwell said.
Even more surprising, resident orcas from J and K pods had gathered in the area as well.
“For the killer whales to have gathered there they must have had other fish there as well that were feeding on the bait fish.”
What was heartening to Pudwell was that all the whales he saw seemed healthy and well fed.
“We hear so many bad stories about whales these days, it was nice to see something like this. This was definitely something good.”
Unfortunately for Pudwell, the sighting took place while he was out on the water “just looking for some whales.”
“It was a nice day so I thought I’d take the boat out and see what I could find, and I sure wasn’t disappointed. It’s too bad I didn’t have others on the boat with me,” Pudwell said.
The bulk of Sooke Whale Watching’s business occurs during Sooke’s busy summer tourist season, but Pudwell pointed out that there are whales in the region’s waters all year.
“The humpbacks will start migrating south this time of year, but if there’s food around they’ll stay here for a long time,” Pudwell said.
“But whales can be seen all year round. And every time I see them, I still get a thrill.”