Just when you think that it cannot not get any better, it does! Even before we left the dock in Alder Bay this morning everyone enjoyed viewing a mother river otter and her two kits playing together on the dock and catching fish amongst a drying reef nearby and it seemed that everywhere we went and looked today we would see a fin or blow appear. Beginning shortly after departing from Alder Bay we were in the midst of a large group of pacific white-sided dolphins who would ride the bow of the boat as we travelled along and at times they could be seen leaping clear out of the water and they headed away towards Weynton Passage while we continued on our way down Johnstone Strait. We encountered the A30 matriline who were spread out travelling to the west, A50 and A54 and their calves travelling close along the Vancouver Island shoreline while A38 and A30 were parallel a distance out, A39 was not travelling with his family. We observed as they turned and began making their way across the Strait towards Blackney Pass and in doing so noticed more blows in the Pass itself. There was a heavy ebb current running and we crossed over the strait, entering Blackfish Sound via the pass at Little Hanson Island, losing sight of the A30’s behind us but picking up blows of orcas ahead mid-strait in Blackfish Sound and also that of a humpback whale. Meanwhile in the distance at the top end of Swanson Island several more orca dorsal fins could be seen when a passenger pointed out the blow of a second humpback whale close along the Swanson Island shoreline. There were several orcas swimming mid strait, the A23’s with A39 (from the A30’s) and other orcas who had been identified as the I16’s, followed by the A25’s (A61 & A85) and we could not believe it when A85 suddenly changed course and swam towards our boat and proceeded to circle around it, close in alongside the hull while passengers and crew looked down speechless, unbelievably the seven year old orca circled around and alongside once more before swimming off to join its uncle. Looking back we could see the A30’s following behind with the I4’s and arriving at the top end of Swanson Island, the orcas waiting there were the I27’s; they were lined up in a resting line and made a beautiful sight. Departing from the area, the blows of two more humpback could be seen past the rock at Bold Head and the orcas still arriving from Blackfish Sound were clearly visible. All the while with our hydrophone deployed, the A & G-Clan vocalizations were absolutely wonderful to listen to! On the way home near the Pearse Reefs the fins of two orcas were glimpsed before they disappeared around a shoreline followed by the surfacing of a humpback whale who fluked nearby. While we did not get to sight the orcas again, we believe they were the same Transient orcas who were seen making their way east along the Pearse Islands (Johnstone Strait side) towards Weynton Passage. Other sightings today included: stellar sea lions, harbour seals, rhinoceros auklets, common murre, red-necked phalaropes, mew and glaucous-winged gulls, bald eagles belted kingfishers, fork-tailed storm-petrals and common mergansers.

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