Northern Resident’s at a Rubbing Beach

We were on our boat the Skana to do a survey of the area, gathering data

We headed out into Hecate Strait, it happened to be a beautiful day, even before we dropped the hydrophone (which we often do) in front of us some whales appeared. We were kind of surprised as we hadn’t heard or seen anything about killer whales being around in the days before.

It was one of those days when you find one and you realize that there’s another one and another one and another one and there were all these matrilines and they were kind of all spread out. There were R’s, there were I’s and a few A clan and they were all heading south down the eastern part of the strait.

We bounced around the matrilines, collecting id photos and as we headed down, we realized we were approaching Porcher Island where there is a rubbing beach.

We decided to hang back and give the orcas more space and see what they would do. Sure, enough as they were travelling south, they literally did a 90 degree turn into that beach. And one at a time they grouped up as matrilines and one matriline would go through and rub against the rocks and leave and the next matriline would come in. They did it as families, they took turns going in, rubbing, and then moving off from the area.

It was so spectacular to get to see it and get to hear them – when NRKW rub they do make different, kind of crazy calls. You could hear the surf and you could hear the rocks rubbing and you could hear the crazy calls. It was so beautiful, and so special. And there was nobody else around and getting to be in areas alone and seeing whales on their own without a lot of vessels around them is so amazing. This will always be one of my most favourite memories. It was just absolutely breathtaking and such a beautiful example of culture in a different species.

-Caitlin

This post was adapted from a voice recording in the thirty second episode of the Whale Tales Podcast, listen here

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