Humpback whales and dolphins today on tour

pacific white-sided dolphins feeding

pacific white-sided dolphins feeding

humpback whale

humpback whale

It was another incredible day where sightings aroused our interest by the hour. Yet again this morning at the dock in Alder Bay, the mother river otter with her four young kits were all accounted for,

humpback whale

humpback whale

close encounter with humpback whale

close encounter with humpback whale

they were hauled out playing on the dock unperturbed that they were being filmed and were delightful to watch! The first humpback whale sighting today was out in the Queen Charlotte Strait; the whale was taking long

note the reddish colouration of the water

note the reddish colouration in the water

note the reddish colouration in the water

note the reddish colouration in the water

dives with 1-2 breaths between dives and with a NW wind blowing and our main sail hoisted, we were able to sail quietly along a distance away. A small group of pacific white-sided dolphins travelling west along the Swanson Island shore could be seen corralling small fish as they worked the shoreline, very focussed in feeding. We had earlier sighted the blows of two more humpback whales down in Blackfish Sound and soon one was close by our boat, at one point we had two whales in close proximity passing us but going in opposite directions. Heading back, still under sail and while serving  Devonshire Tea, another humpback whale could be seen travelling to the west across Blackfish Sound heading for the Plumper Island group and suddenly in the surging of the flooding current, the whale was heading not away from us as we had all thought, but heading towards us, also in the flooding current. The viewing was surprising, exciting and fantastic! Something which we have seldom seen, as the whale went by us, it defecated and the colour rusty red (from its food source) was clearly visible in the water. It was of great interest to us all and I believe to many who might also view our photo and read our blog. I have included an explanation with regard to this subject.

According to research from the Australian Antarctic Division, whale poop is about 10 million times more concentrated with iron than sea water. Here’s why: Iron is found in algae (phytoplankton) on surface waters, Krill eat the algae, Whales eat the krill, the iron eventually ends up back at the surface in the form of whale poop, the algae use this iron for growth. This is a simplified version of what actually happens. It’s a self-sustaining system with a very high level of production. Algae serves as the base for the aquatic food chain, so the more whale poop there is, the more abundant the ocean will be.

Also seen today: dall’s porpoises, harbour seals, rhinoceros auklets, red-necked phalaropes, cassin’s auklets, black oyster catchers, bald eagles and a great blue heron. Arriving back at the Government Dock into Alert Bay, a minke whale was reported by children swimming close to the dock.

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