VANCOUVER -- Some neighbours in Belcarra caught a rare sight on Friday afternoon, as several orcas made their way through the waters of Indian Arm.

For Janet Ruzycki, the sight provided welcome respite from the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current restrictions on ordinary life, as residents are asked to stay home as much as possible.

“I think it just lifted everybody’s spirits,” said Ruzycki, who was able to capture the whales on video. “It was something kind of exciting and fun, and somewhat unusual.”

While whales appeared in the same area last summer, it’s quite rare to see orcas: Ruzycki said this is only the second time she’s spotted them during a lifetime of living in Belcarra.

Ruzycki first noticed that a seal that had come out of the water and was sheltering on the sand on a nearby island.

“The last time we saw that was when we had whales here — and I looked out, and there were the whales,” she said.

Ruzycki hasn’t been able to visit her 86-year-old mother, who lives in an assisted-living home, because of a ban on visitors to limit the spread of COVID-19. But the nurse who helps her mom was able to show her the video, making a special connection at a time when physical contact isn’t possible.

“It basically made both of their days,” Ruzycki said.