Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

The Coast Range makes a spectacular backdrop for orca heading towards Discovery Passage of Campbell River Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Frank NeilThe Coast Range makes a spectacular backdrop for orca heading towards Discovery Passage of Campbell River Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Frank Neil
Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings
Orca makes its way past Cape Mudge Lighthouse on Quadra Island on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Robin DayOrca makes its way past Cape Mudge Lighthouse on Quadra Island on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Robin Day
Pair of Orca pass Campbell River’s Discovery Pier on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Robin DayPair of Orca pass Campbell River’s Discovery Pier on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Robin Day
An orca that was part of a pod that passed by Campbell River in Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021 gave passengers on the Campbell River to Quadra Island ferry a front row seat. Photo by Frank NeilAn orca that was part of a pod that passed by Campbell River in Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021 gave passengers on the Campbell River to Quadra Island ferry a front row seat. Photo by Frank Neil
Orca pass under the Discovery Pier in Campbell River on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife sightings </a>Orca pass under the Discovery Pier in Campbell River on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/Comox Valley Wildlife sightings

It was a wildlife photographer’s bonanza on Saturday, Feb. 27 when a pod of orca or killer whales passed by Campbell River close to shore.

Wildlife enthusiasts Ella and Nicky Smiley who co-run the Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings Facebook page tracked the pod that included matriarch T069 Komox, the big male, T069C Kye, the male T069E young male Kodiak and his sibling T069F Kin. The animals passed by close to the Vancouver Island shore, being first reported off Kitty Coleman Beach near Comox at 7:46 a.m. The Smileys then tracked them north, including catching them hunting porpoise off Stories Beach, just south of Campbell River. The orca then travelled close to shore for the next five hours passing under the Discovery Pier off the City of Campbell River’s waterfront around 1 p.m. and then continuing north.

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For Campbell River area newcomers Eule Kuhling and her husband Robin Day, this pod gave them their first-ever sighting of orca. They started following the pod at Stories Beach and made stops at various viewpoints along the way, losing them at Orange Point Road north of the city.

“The best shots were from the pier as the orcas submerged about 100 metres out and popped up right alongside the pier,” Day said.

RELATED: VIDEO: Half a dozen humpback whales have play day near Vancouver Island shoreline

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