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)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 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 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)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)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

A memorial to Hudson Brooks outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment. (File photo)
Officer who fatally shot Hudson Brooks recounts ‘absolutely terrifying’ incident

Const. Elizabeth Cucheran testified at coroner’s inquest Tuesday morning

File photo
Surrey council members give themselves a raise in secret meeting

A redacted report was subsequently posted to the city’s website

Delta’s Jodi Macpherson won $25,029 in a Keno draw on Jan. 25, 2021. (BC Lottery Corporation photo)
Delta woman lands $25k keno prize

Jodi Macpherson purchased her ticket from the Town Pantry on 56th Street in Tsawwassen

Crews work to build Central Surrey Recycling and Waste Centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
PHOTOS/VIDEO: Surrey’s new recycling/waste dropoff site takes shape near Newton business park

‘Central Surrey’ location to make for ‘a convenient one-stop-drop’ by early 2022

Delta Mayor George Harvie. (Submitted photo)
Mayor asks Fraser Health to reconsider North Delta vaccination site

Harvie wants a North Delta clinic to complement the South Delta location

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Abbotsford Regional Hospital (Black Press file photo)
Nurse assaulted at Abbotsford hospital in same ward as 2019 dumbbell attack

‘Completely unacceptable that nurses continue to be assaulted,’ says union president

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)
B.C. is ‘stereotyping’ churches as riskier for COVID than other spaces, lawyer argues

Judge said that freedom of expression, religion are not at issue in the case

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent comes first and last for B.C. industrial projects

Environment minister can still approve permits without consent

Most Read