WATCH: A couple was enjoying a day on their boat, only to be surprised by a seal that had suddenly jumped onto their dinghy in a bid not to become someone’s lunch. Here’s Jill Bennett.
Michelle Wigmore and her husband were out enjoying Friday afternoon on the waters of Desolation Sound when they came upon an unexpected sight: a stowaway seal hiding out on their dinghy to avoid falling prey to a passing orca.
“Sure enough, two orcas popped up,” said Wigmore. “It was just breathtaking and heartbreaking in a way because you don’t want to get in the middle of a hunt and affect wildlife and affect nature. But at the same time, you feel sort of sorry for the seal, but you know that this is how these transient orcas survive.”
It seems the seal was determined to get out of the water. The Wigmores’ boat wasn’t even the first choice.
“We noticed a seal pop up and jump up into the back of a fish boat beside us and startled the fella in there,” said Rob Wigmore. “He just opened up the the throttle, took off and the seal fell out.”
But the seal jumped right back out of the water into the Wigmores’ dinghy.
“The orcas appeared and were circling for about 20 minutes searching for him,” said Rob. “They couldn’t find him because he was sitting up in our tender and he wasn’t budging. He just closed his eyes and went to sleep and would look at us every so often.”
While it might seem like odd behaviour, marine mammal experts say it’s not all that strange for a seal to do whatever it can to avoid a pod of orcas, and for the giant mammals to wait for them to go back into the water.
“I think it’s pretty normal for the whales to circle in the area and hope that the seal gets back in the water,” said Robin Baird, a biologist with Cascadia Research.
The Wigmores are just happy, in this case, that the whales eventually left, as did the seal.
-With files from Jill Bennett