Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

Oak Bay resident Jacques Sirois happened upon an eagle hunting a yearling seal. (Photo courtesy Jacques Sirois)
The eagle dragged its prey through the water. (Photo courtesy Jacques Sirois)
The large bird of prey hauled its heavy prey out of the water revealing a young seal. (Photo courtesy Jacques Sirois)
The eagle quickly started in on its meal. (Photo courtesy Jacques Sirois)
Sirois still managed to capture the long-billed dowitcher he’d set out to photograph. (Photo courtesy Jacques Sirois)

An Oak Bay resident was in for a surprise while out in his kayak when he encountered an eagle hunting a mid-sized seal.

Jacques Sirois, a biologist, was paddling in McNeill Bay on May 8 when he spotted a long-billed dowitcher – a shorebird that forages in the mud and sand. Sirois pulled out his camera in hopes of capturing a photo when he noticed an eagle had also zeroed in on the dowitcher.

READ ALSO: ‘Go home’: Alberta-registered vehicles vandalized in B.C. border town amid COVID-19

The large bird of prey decided to put on a show – it swooped in but missed its mark, Sirois said. The frustrated eagle also missed another shorebird before setting its sights on a much larger target – a seal.

The eagle dove down to the water suddenly, he said. It captured something heavy and dragged it about 100 metres through the water as Sirois watched from his kayak – camera in hand.

“The eagle did a perfect butterfly stroke to shore” before hauling its catch out of the ocean, revealing the seal, he explained. Sirois guessed the seal was about one year old – a yearling – as it was too big to be a pup but clearly not full grown.

“It was a totally unplanned event,” Sirois said, adding how surprised he was to see the eagle move through the water with such a heavy animal in its talons. “I was in the right place at the right time.”

Sirois pointed out that there’s a pair of eagles who live in the area and he’s seen them hunting before but never something so big.

READ ALSO: Langford siblings perform rap to cheer those stuck at home

“They’re very busy hunting around south Oak Bay” and often perch on the Trial Islands lighthouse, Sirois said.

While he was excited to capture the moment on camera, Sirois isn’t planning on framing the photos – because he simply has too many nature shots from many years of exploring the area.

“We are lucky to have so much nature here in the city,” he said.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

Photography

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Sunflower Highway, art initiative to connect Fraser Valley, Thompson-Nicola and Okanagan

Sunflowers made out of reclaimed materials will be installed on public art trails

Residents warned to stay away from flooded Cache Creek park

Water might look shallow, but is several feet deep in places

Ashcroft receives grants to get new hot tub and lift station

‘The hot tub is a major benefit for many residents’

Cache Creek gets funding for improvements on Old Cariboo Road

Work will help to mitigate damage from water and debris flows during flooding

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

Northern B.C. First Nations call for reversal of grizzly bear hunting ban

Growing grizzly populations have led to fewer ungulates and increased fear of attacks says Chad Day

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Most Read