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

Train ride at Minter store not part of this year’s festive fun

Tough decision made to stop seasonal train in its tracks after injury suffered by Brian Minter

Players Guild challenges Chilliwack residents to solve classic Agatha Christie whodunit mystery

The Chilliwack Players Guild is performing Murder on the Nile from Nov. 22 to Dec. 2

Chilliwack students learn about business and charity during entrepreneurship fair

Mt. Slesse Grade 8 kids will be donating 20 per cent of their business profits to the food bank

Work wrapping up in Chilliwack on the Valley Rail Trail expansion

The trail is envisioned as the north-south spine of a future cycling network

Chilliwack saw sub-tropical blast of warm air Wednesday

It didn’t break any official records but it was warmer than usual by several degrees

VIDEO: Stan Lee leaves posthumous message for his fans

Marvel Comics’ co-creator died on Monday at the age of 95

Deer carcasses don’t belong in green bins, says B.C. city

City of Nanaimo issues reminder to residents, saying fur isn’t compostable

B.C. couple helping wildfire evacuees in northern California

A planned holiday has turned into a humanitarian effort for a Penticton couple

Dead whale discovered on B.C. shore

The whale was discovered Friday morning near the BC Ferries terminal

‘This is gangster,’ bait car thief declares on video

Footage from Abbotsford gains attention on social media

Parents skeptical as Abbotsford school fills French immersion vacancy

School district says new teacher will start Dec. 1 closing vacancy currently filled by English teacher

B.C. to offer gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people

Roughly 100 people in B.C. travel each year out of province for lower surgeries

U.S. mayor and dying dog’s roadtrip to B.C. goes viral

First vacation in three years came a month after blood cancer diagnosis

Federal fall update expected to offer more support for struggling news industry

Ottawa committed $50 million over five years for local journalism in ‘underserved communities’ last budget

Most Read