Wild Orcas in BC - Aaron Northcott

Wild Orcas in BC


This year has brought a lot of first-time experiences for me, some good and some bad, but undoubtedly my first ever encounter with Wild Orcas (Killer Whales) is among my favourites. In fact, I'd put it up there with some of my top animal encounters of all time!

I'm aware now that it's fairly common on the West Coast of BC to see Resident and Transient Killer Whale pods cruising past, whether out at sea or in one of the many bays and estuaries. Photographing Orcas in the wild has been on my bucket list since I can remember though, and my first encounter didn't disappoint.

Large Orca (Orcinus orca) Swimming in the Knight Inlet, Canada

I was travelling back from an incredible time with Grizzly Bears in the Great Bear Rainforest, the rain was coming down hard and the previously serene waters were now jerking the boat as we continued our journey.

Earlier in the day I'd seen Humpback Whales, an incredible Minke Whale and even fleeting glimpses here-and-there of Dall's porpoises - but the Killer Whales had still eluded me. I continued to stand out on the back deck, scanning the surface of the water when suddenly, an enormous dorsal fin (almost as tall as me!) rose from the waves no more than 8 or 9 metres from the boat.

I'm not sure why, perhaps I had expected more of an announcement of their arrival or to see them coming from a great distance, but I was simply astounded by the quietness and grace of such an enormous and majestic creature. The way that the first individual broke through the surface and in such close proximity left me breathless, and soon we were surrounded by at least 16 Orcas that spanned the width of the inlet.

Travelling in the same direction as us, we had at least 10 minutes with them before they once again disappeared into the choppy seas. Admittedly, it was only a fleeting first-time experience with these incredible animals - but enough to get me hooked. Since that first time I've encountered many more off the West coast of Canada and Alaska; and every time, I'm still impacted greatly by the these amazing creatures.

I'd love to hear about your first-time experiences with Killer Whales! Share your stories with me on social media using the links below.

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In