A Vancouver resident who was boating in Howe Sound had a once in a lifetime experience with some of the region’s most beloved marine inhabitants on Tuesday.

Elliot Funt says he came across a pod of orcas while boating. He kept his distance for about half an hour, just off the northern tip of Bowyer Island even before he started filming a soon-to-be viral video.

The video shows Funt’s boat surrounded by the whales. He says “The sea lion that they seemed to be playing with came over to the boat that was next to us and tried to almost attach itself to this boat and tried to hide form all the orcas. Of course the orcas swam over as well, so we were in the middle of six different orcas there. A mother, father and four little young ones from the look of it”.

Funt who is a realtor in the city says the boat wasn’t moving at the time, and that he shut off it’s engine to make sure they wouldn’t hit the orcas when the whales were surrounding them. He knows that you are supposed to keep your distance from large whales, but says “once they’re on top of you, you don’t exactly want to move and risk hitting them”. After about half an hour of the whales swimming around several boats, a tour-boat operator suggested that the boat the sea lion was clinging too, slowly move toward Bowyer Island so the sea lion could seek refugee, which worked according to the realtor. He described the experience as “a game of cat and mouse” between the whales and sea lion.

Funt, who grew up in Horseshoe Bay has spent years on the water but has never seen anything like it. He’s using the experience to highlight the Howe Sound Declaration – a movement against Woodfibre LNG. The proposed Liquid Natural Gas facility was recently granted a 40 year export licence to operate in Howe Sound, however final permits for the project are still to be approved. A gravel mine, operated by Burnco has also been proposed in the Howe Sound region. Both projects would see an increase in tanker traffic, a concern for many residents and environmental groups. As of January, scientists say there were only 78 southern resident killer whales.

The killer whales were not the only Howe Sound inhabitants showing their fins on the spring day. Furry Creek resident Kristin Wilkes says she witnessed a humpback whale on Tuesday evening near the Furry Creek beach. The whale was visible for about half an hour according to Wilkes.


You can view Elliot Funt’s video below. Please be advised the video does contain some strong language.



Filed under: Howe Sound, Killer Whale, Ocean, Orca, Salish Sea, Sea to Sky, Squamish, Sunshine Coast, Vancouver, West Vancouver