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

Members of the 2019 Discovery Passage Aquarium staff from left, Nathan Duifhuis, Brianna Marcoux, Ricky Belanger, Robyn Douglas, Hailee Arlitt and Grant Matthews, pose for a photo with touch tank specimens on Aug. 26, 2019. Photo by Marissa Tiel/Campbell River Mirror
Discovery Passage Aquarium opens for the 2021 season on World Oceans Day

Visitors can expect an air-tight COVID-19 safety plan, with distancing between visitors and staff

The water level at the Upper Campbell Reservoir behind Strathcona Dam (left of picture) is currently rising slowly, BC Hydro says but it is forecasted to be in the low end of the expected recreation target range due to drier than average conditions. This photo was taken in mid-March 2021. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror
Conditions turn drier than normal in Campbell River watershed

BC Hydro forecasts another year of low summer reservoir levels and Campbell River flows.

NIC’s new president Lisa Domae assumed the role of president on April 12. Domae has worked at NIC since 2000, most recently as the executive vice president, academic and chief operating officer. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
New North Island College president launches draft strategic plan

Lisa Domae assumed the role of president on April 12, 2021

From left are Michael Siemens, Ben Cyphery from the Young Professionals of Campbell River, Trudy Parry from the Better at Home project, and Michaela Arruda, Amanda Raleigh and Kelsey Anglin of the Young Professionals of Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Young Professionals raise over $6,000 for Better at Home project

Virtual dinner party held to raise funds for seniors

Nathan Zuk had left his mother’s residence in Whaletown on Cortes Island in mid-December 2020 in a 14’ skiff rowboat and headed to an unknown location near the Pryce Channel, Deer passage, or Toba Inlet. Photo courtesy RCMP
RCMP need help finding man who set off from Cortes Island in 14-foot rowboat

Nathan Zuk left in December, may have been last seen in Toba Inlet approximately three weeks ago

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Derek Descoteau with his trusty dog Harvey. (Photo submitted)
Friends provide continuing comfort for family in wake of unresolved senseless B.C. murder

Case remains before the courts five years after Derek Descoteau’s abrupt stabbing death in Chemainus

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

The new wing at the Victoria International Airport opened up on Thursday (File contributed/YYJ)
Pandemic takes ‘hundreds of millions’ out of Victoria Airport, Vancouver Island economy

Airport authority head says passenger volumes down as much as 98 per cent

The top photo is of a real carbine rifle, while the bottom photo is the airsoft rifle seized from a Kelowna man on May 15. (Contributed)
RCMP issue warning: ‘Imitation firearms need to be dealt with responsibly’

A man brandishing his airsoft rifle in public had his weapon seized by Mounties on Saturday

Reigning women’s World Champion Kaetlyn Osmond, who also took bronze at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, will debut two brand new programs for the 2021 Stars On Ice tour, in Victoria May 15. (File photo)
Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko hit the ice when Stars On Ice returns to Vancouver Island

The star-studded lineup is makes a return after pandemic hiatus

Abbotsford Regional Hospital. (Black Press Media files)
Canada marks 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began

6 in every 10,000 Canadians died of COVID-19 since March 9, 2020

Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen, with the 100 Mile House RCMP. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)
14-year-old boy killed in serious ATV crash near 100 Mile House

Youth was travelling with a group of peers when the incident occurred last Friday

Relief is coming for B.C.’s struggling tourism sector. (NEWS file photo)
B.C. officials set to announce more support for tourism sector hit hard by pandemic

Non-essential travel is restricted between three regional zones in B.C. until at least May 24

Most Read