Bowen Island artist Di Izdebski posted a video of orcas surfacing right next to the Bowen Island shoreline on Jan. 23, 2021. (Screenshot)

Bowen Island artist Di Izdebski posted a video of orcas surfacing right next to the Bowen Island shoreline on Jan. 23, 2021. (Screenshot)

VIDEO: Rare shoreline close encounter with northern resident orcas near Bowen Island

Bowen Island resident has a memorable experience

Bowen Island resident Di Izdebski (Art By Di) had a close encounter with a pod of orcas Saturday – right outside her front door.

“I saw the orcas from my house – I have a little tiny bit of ocean view, and I happened to pass by the window just at the right time… so I went down to the shore and I got there about a minute before they passed by,” she said. “The couple in the video, they were just walking along, and they were about to leave so I said ‘don’t go anywhere; the orcas are coming.’ So they stayed and had the experience of a lifetime.”

Izdebski identified the orcas as members of A5 pod.

“Close encounter with a pod of Orca whales off Bowen Island, BC, January 2021,” she posted on her YouTube channel (Di/Art By Di). “Identified as the Northern Resident Killer Whale A42 Matriline, part of A5 Pod.”

Izdebski said that while she has seen orcas in the area before, this was the first time she has ever seen members of that pod in the area.

“It’s a feeding area, but not for the northern residents – I have never seen them here before,” she said. “They are chinook eaters, much like the southern residents… and the chinook kind of like to congregate there. So yes, we do see orcas there, but they are usually transients.”

She said she has never seen them that close before, and actually had to draw her telephoto lens all the way in just to get the whales in the frame.

“Right where those people were standing, at low tide I could probably walk right out to where the orcas passed by, so they may have been rubbing… but they didn’t appear to be.”

Jacki Hildering of the Marine Education and Research Society identified the orcas, and said they were likely foraging for food.

“I believe it would have been the chinook [salmon] in this case that would have been the biggest motivator for them being there,” she said, adding that there was also “significant violation” by boaters in the area.

Under Canada’s Fisheries Act, people must keep 400 metres away from killer whales in southern British Columbia coastal waters between Campbell River and just north of Ucluelet.

Black Press has reached out to Izdebski for comment and will update the file accordingly.

RELATED: Paddle boarder’s orca encounter brings outrage
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