Vancouver orca pod’s rare moment captured by local wildlife photographer
Posted February 19, 2023 9:08 pm.
Last Updated February 20, 2023 9:48 am.
A rare orca pod appearance in Vancouver has been captured by a local wildlife photographer.
Frank Lin says he always expects the unexpected, but when he saw a pod of orcas breaching near the Burrard inlet, he was at a loss for words.
“It’s just like, did I imagine this? Because I did see them surfacing with their fins at first and thought, that’s probably all I’m going to get with this camera. I’m probably not going to get the ‘breaching’ that people always show in these pictures of the orcas. And then it just happened. And I was like, wow. There’s no way I’m going to get this again,” Lin said.
Lin says it’s not something you can see in Vancouver every day and Andrew Trites, UBC’s Marine Mammal Research Unit director, agrees.
“You could spend every day on the water looking for killer whales and never get that shot,” Trites said.
Trites says the orcas come to Vancouver’s waters to eat small marine mammals.
“Their favorite item on the dinner menu are harbor seals. They’re like sticks of butter and full of fat. Very, very nutritious for them. Not so good for the seals, perhaps. But at the same time, they’re in here controlling the population size of seals.”
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Lin was doing a bird count with the Stanley Park Ecology Society near Brockton Point at Stanley Park when the killer whales breached the waters and his teammate pointed it out.
“They saw the pod of orcas swimming along the Burrard inlet, west, towards the Lions Gate bridge. We all ran down towards the seawall. It turned out this was the T90 pod, which consists of four individuals. There is one matriarch female and she has one son and two daughters. And they were also joined by another male, which is a lone male that often joins that pod,” Lin said.
Apart from harbor seals, UBC’s Fanny Couture says killer whales also eat porpoises and dolphins.
“We have more and more of those species around. So it’s likely that we see the transient killer whales coming in the waters around Vancouver more often as well in the years to come,” Couture said.
Trites says people are living in a moment of marine life recovery around Vancouver- something that hasn’t been seen in the city’s water for over 100 years.
For Trites, it’s one of the reasons why he’s staying in Vancouver. As for Lin, he feels the experience is something that everyone should witness at some point.