B.C. residents treated to rare, up-close orca sighting

On Monday, 30 parents and children were treated to a special March Break show when they got a rare, up-close look at a dozen killer whales.

Early that afternoon, the group gathered at the northern tip of Mudge Island, near Nanaimo, British Columbia.

They were rounded up by whale-enthusiast and Mudge Island resident Chad Giesbrecht, who’d heard a large group of whales were recently spotted by the neighbouring De Courcy Island.

The group stood on shore for more than an hour before the whales came through the tidal channel. About a dozen of them showed up, and they were believed to be from J-pod, which is part of the larger southern resident killer whale population.

“Of all the resident groups, that’s the pod that tends to use Dodd Narrows…It’s certainly been a few months since we’ve heard about them coming through,” Fisheries and Oceans Canada researcher Dr. John Ford told CBC News.

Ford believes the whales were headed toward Comox, B.C., to forage for Chinook salmon.

When they did pass by the group of spectators, there was no shortage of excitement.

“I actually had to ask them to keep it down a bit because they were squealing,” Gieesbrecht said. But as someone who often spots orcas on his own, he was happy to share the moment with others.

“That was worth the wait!” one of the children exclaimed as the whales swam by, and if you watch the video, you’ll see why.