Killer whales spotted in Churchill
Photos courtesy Sea North Tours
Living in the northern isolation of Churchill, Man., Dwight and Remi Allen have seen their fair share of wildlife. But on Tuesday morning the father-son duo witnessed something rare.
“We heard that there were sightings of killer whales in the Hudson’s Bay, so I immediately contacted Remi,” recalls Dwight, whose family owns Sea North Tours. “We jumped in our truck and went down to the marina, where we have our Zodiac boats, and we jumped into the biggest one.”
Aboard the military-grade 20-foot Zodiac, it didn’t take them long to see the potential source of the reported orcas – a pod of beluga whales, close to the shoreline and exhibiting “very unusual behaviour.”
After passing the belugas and maneuvering their boat through five-foot swells at the mouth of the Churchill River, the Allens figured the killer whales couldn’t be far. Twenty minutes later, however, they still hadn’t found them and were on the verge of giving up.
“Then, all of a sudden, just off the corner of my eye, I saw large dorsal fins off the bow,” Dwight says.
Within minutes, Remi had positioned the Zodiac to give the Allens a better vantage point. What they saw blew them away.
“There were about 11 killer whales, mothers, calves and big bulls, all porpoising out of the water,” Dwight says. “But we also noticed there were no belugas in sight.”
After following the orcas for about 10 minutes, to a place called Button Bay, the Allens finally came across a small pod of belugas. A short time later, they came across something else.
“There were blood trails four feet wide and the smell of blubber all around,” Dwight says. “It was amazing how fast these killer whales took down a beluga.
“I can understand now why they call them the “wolves of the sea” and earned the name killer whales.”