Screenshot from a video provided by Pacific Yellowfin Charters shows an astute seal as it seeks shelter on the swim grid of 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

Lemon Creek fuel truck driver gets $20,000 fine

Danny LaSante was sentenced in Nelson court today

UPDATED: Ammonia leak shuts down Nelson Curling Club

The club says it can’t afford to make repairs on its own

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

South Slocan woman killed in Friday crash

Police continue to investigate cause of fatal crash

It’s time for Blues Brews and BBQ again

Fundraiser for Kootenay Co-op Radio runs March 1 and 2

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

B.C. man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

Make sure measles shots up to date, Public Health Agency says

Measles causes high fever, coughing, sneezing and a widespread painful rash

Most Read