“Rainy” the orca delighted onlookers in Sooke on Monday as he cruised around the Sooke Basin.
Mollie Naccarato, a wildlife photographer and captain with Sooke Coastal Explorations – a local whale watching company – said she was surprised to see T011A (Rainy) because the tide was relatively low. Naccarato regularly monitors local whale sighting Facebook groups and saw a post that a whale had been spotted in the basin. After confirming the whale’s presence, she managed to get a ride on a Prince of Wales boat – another local whale-watching company – to photograph the whale, since her company’s season has not started yet.
Once aboard, Naccarato was able to photograph and identify the whale as Rainy by examining photos of his saddle patch, the area of skin behind a whale’s dorsal fin.
“That’s completely unique to each animal, like a human fingerprint.”
Rainy has the most recorded visits to the Sooke Basin and often visits around this time of year, she added. He often travelled with his mother T011 – Wakana – before she died a few years ago. Naccarato last saw Rainy in September 2019 in the basin with his mother.
Naccarato doesn’t encourage people to go out on their own boats to spot whales, because there are a number of federal regulations restricting doing that, in order to keep whales safe. She said if you’re looking from the shore, to keep an eye out for a blow of water or a black fin.
“Just keep your eyes on the water and hopefully everyone gets to experience – to see one – at least once in their lifetime, especially living in Sooke.”