Screenshot from a video provided by Pacific Yellowfin Charters shows an astute seal as it seeks shelter on a tourist boat in Frederick Arm, an inlet north of Campbell River.

VIDEO: Seal escapes hungry orcas by climbing aboard tourist boat

Whales circulate nearby as lucky seal finds refuge

A seal escaped the jaws of hungry orcas by hitching a ride on a nearby tourist vessel on July 1, and the encounter was caught on video.

Several transient orcas were hunting the harbour seal in Frederick Arm, an inlet located about 1.5 hours north of Campbell River by boat, when the savvy animal swam up to the boat and climbed aboard.

Footage provided by Pacific Yellowfin Charters shows the worried-looking animal hiding behind the boat’s outboard motor on the swim grid, a low platform at the stern of the vessel.

The clever seal occasionally glances up at the humans aboard the 26-foot fishing boat. But it’s mostly focused on its hungry hunters, which circulate below and breach menacingly just meters away.

Colin Griffinson, captain of a “luxury expedition” ship called the Pacific Yellowfin, said that crew members were going ashore in their smaller craft, the Yellowfin Swan, when they observed the pod of whales attacking a seal.

The melee continued for some time without a kill, and the seal made a break for it.

“He got away and just came bee-lining for our boat, from about 150 feet away,” he said. Sure enough, the animal climbed aboard the Swan and lived to see another day.

The animal now has a name: Lucky.

“We said, what will we call the seal if we actually ended up keeping it?” said Griffinson. “We just joked that we’d call it Lucky.”

He described it as a “big, fat seal” and a “very healthy animal.”

“Maybe that’s why they didn’t kill it so easy,” he said.

“It was a prime seal” and “obviously it had some smarts because it survived this far,” he said.

Griffinson stressed that he didn’t intend to interfere with the hunt. Indeed, the crew was “looking forward to seeing a kill,” he said.

It was the first time an animal had actually jumped aboard one of his vessels, Griffinson said.

To deal with the situation, he consulted with Nick Templeman, who was also on the scene, observing the orcas on another vessel with a whale researcher.

Templeman, owner-operator of Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions, had experienced this kind of thing before. A seal jumped onto his boat in 2017. He also witnessed a seal leaping into someone’s Zodiac last year, he said.

Both seafarers said they weren’t worried the orcas would flip the Swan in pursuit of their prey.

“The orcas know what they’re doing,” said Templeman, saying the whales are too intelligent to recklessly destroy a boat for a snack.

Griffinson also said that in his many encounters with orcas during fishing trips, whales have never interfered with his equipment.

The whole encounter unf0lded over the course of 30-45 minutes. And while the seal held on for dear life, the whales also hung around.

“They continue[d] to look and wait for that seal,” he said.

Griffinson eventually navigated away from the scene. But even after some gentle prodding with a pole, the seal wouldn’t disembark.

“We did give it a push at one point in time, but it just got back on again,” he said. “We decided that the seal had had a tough enough day and we weren’t going to bug it anymore.”

The crew opted to leave the seal aboard the boat at the dock. But as they entered the shallows, near a spot where the seals haul out, Lucky slipped away.

“He obviously recognized the place,” Griffinson. “He just jumped off.”

Just Posted

Email policy raises access questions at Strathcona Regional District board

Directors could still use personal email if attached to new addresses

ICET helps Strathcona Regional District with ‘last-mile’ broadband work

Money will support planning sessions in eight SRD communities

Walk was to take an hour, says rescued Quadra Island woman

The pair heard whistle from locals involved in search Friday afternoon

Family launches fundraiser for man who spent days trapped in smashed truck

GoFundMe campaign aims to raise $5,000 for Duncan Moffat’s recovery program

Changes coming to BC Ferries reservations for Vancouver Island routes

Many customers are booking multiple reservations, inflating wait times

VIDEO: Two officers of B.C. Legislature escorted out amid investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Pot users, investors need to be vigilant at Canada-U.S. border

U.S. authorities say anyone who admits to having used pot before it became legal could be barred

Awards will recognize business excellence on Vancouver Island

Nomination period begins for Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards

Late 2019 too long to wait for ridesharing: B.C. Conservatives

“While the rest of the world is embracing this transportation revolution, B.C. is only now staggering slowly toward legislation on a business model that’s been mainstreamed for over a decade in other jurisdictions.”

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

ICBC warns shoppers of the high-accident season at mall parking lots

Over 150,000 accidents happened during the holiday season last year

No deal in sight: Canada Post warns of delivery delays into January

Union holds fifth week of rotating strikes as both sides remain apart on contract negotiations

COLUMN: Higher interest rates will slow B.C. economy after ‘unusually robust’ show

Jock Finlayson is executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Business Council of BC

Jason Aldean, Old Dominion to headline Merritt’s Rockin’ River concerts next summer

Four-day music festival at Coldwater River from Aug. 1 to 4

Most Read