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Orca pod cruises through Victoria's Inner Harbour during hour-long visit

Last Updated Jun 8, 2018 at 11:05 am PDT

A pod of orcas are seen in Victoria's Inner Harbour on Thursday, June 7, 2018 in this handout photo. A pod of transient orcas made a rare visit to Victoria’s Inner Harbour on Thursday. At least four of the whales, identified as pod T49A, circled the harbour before moving back out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Jackie Cowan *MANDATORY CREDIT*

A group of orcas spent about an hour touring Victoria's Inner Harbour on Thursday

VICTORIA – A pod of killer whales has made a rare appearance in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, frolicking not far from the British Columbia legislature on Thursday.

The group of four or five orcas, including a large male and what appeared to be a calf, spent about an hour touring the harbour, bringing vessel traffic to a halt and delaying floatplane activity.

Jackie Cowan lives aboard a boat in the harbour and says she was listening to marine radio chatter about a pod of killer whales in Juan de Fuca Strait and then suddenly heard the Transport Canada patrol vessel ordering the harbour cleared.

Cowan, who is a member of Victoria’s Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 35 and a captain for a local whale-watching company, says she realized that meant the animals were entering the narrow waterway.

She says she watched the transients, which mainly feed on seals and sea lions, explore the Inner Harbour and then head into the Upper Harbour, passing under the Johnston Street Bridge.

Cowan says dozens of other boats converged for a look, but remained stationary and didn’t threaten the orca’s safety as they inspected the harbour before moving back out to open water in search of a meal.