Live Orcalab Base Lookout at Hanson Island – Explore.org LIVECAM

Check out the view from the headquarters of OrcaLab, a whale research lab on Hanson Island in British Columbia’s Johnstone Strait at Blackfish Sound. This live cam brings amazing, wide views of Blackney Pass. This is one of the main travel routes for the orcas, also known as killer whales, who reside in these waters during the summer and fall months. It’s also the perfect place to catch a spectacular sunrise beyond the mountains all year round!

Best Times to Watch

This cam is live 24 hours so the scenic view is always available. The best times to catch orcas on cam is going to be between the months of June to August.

Common Questions & Answers about Orcas

Are orcas mammals or fish?
Orcas are mammals; they are toothed whales and the largest member of the dolphin family.

How big are orcas?
Orcas are generally between 23 and 32 feet long and can weigh up to 6 tons. They’re slightly smaller than a full-sized school bus!

Why are orcas called killer whales?
“Killer whale” is a misleading name, because in actuality they are not dangerous to humans! In fact, there has never been a documented instance of an orca killing a human in the wild. Orcas are apex predators and hunt collectively in pods, which have been likened to wolf packs. Like dolphins, orcas use echolocation to hunt their prey. Orcas diets consist primarily seabirds, sea lions, seals, squid, fish and other whales. The name “killer whale” most likely comes from hundreds of years ago, when sailors observed pods of orcas hunting whales much larger than themselves.

What are pods?
Orcas live and hunt in pods that can include up to 35 individual whales that are part of the same extended family. The hierarchy within pods is matriarchal. It’s been observed that the older female orcas in a pod are more likely to share food with the rest of the pod, rather than their immediate family, suggesting that their focus is on the overall success of the pod.

Where do orcas live?
Orcas are found in all of the world’s oceans, but they tend to prefer colder, coastal waters like those here in British Columbia. Orcas are most common in the Arctic and Antarctic and the west coast of North America.

There are two different types of orcas: transient orcas (also called Biggs’ orcas) and resident orcas. The differences between the two are very subtle and mostly behavioral. Resident orcas like the ones you see here prefer to eat fish (and almost exclusively salmon in the summer). Transient orcas prefer to eat marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises and other whales.

Are orcas intelligent?
Orcas are extremely intelligent, using complex communications that are specific to a given pod. Orcas are also one of the few nonhuman animals that are able to recognize their own faces in a mirror. The orca’s intelligence is part of the reason they were captured and brought to amusement parks; they respond well to being trained. In recent years, however, the negative effects of captivity on orcas, including depression and isolated cases of aggression, have been exposed.

OrcaLab

In 1970, Dr. Paul Spong founded OrcaLab, a small land based whale research station. It is nestled against the evergreen forest of Hanson Island in the waters of the “Inside Passage” of northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. OrcaLab research is land based as a matter of philosophyÔÇŽ research without interference. The approach works well in their area, with its many waterways & relatively small distances. OrcaLabÔÇÖs location on Hanson Island at Blackney Pass is also perfect for reception of radio signals from Johnstone Strait & Blackfish Sound, two of the most important areas used by the whales. Want to learn more? Check out their website.

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