Superb viewing of the A30 matriline

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Today was one of those glorious days on the North Island, a day like so many that we have been fortunate to have this summer.  The fog cleared quickly  revealing a bright blue sky with a warming sun and calm blue sea stretching before us. Happy hearts and smiling faces set the mood onboard the boat as we made our way east after leaving Alder Bay this morning. Adding to the excitement was the early sighting of a Black Bear on a beach by one of our passengers and we stopped to observe it as it foraged, before crossing over to enter Weynton Passage. The A23’s and A25’s were reported easting in a resting line off Kaikash Beach while the A8’s were westing near Stubbs Island and the A30’s were reported at the mouth of Blackney Passage as we neared the Stephenson Islands. We continued in the direction of Stubbs Island in the fast ebbing current with a huge fog bank looming ahead of us. While the A8’s were quickly engulfed in the fog as they made their way to the west off Donegal Head we stayed in the sunshine and turned east towards Blackfish Sound, paralleling a Humpback Whale as it too made its way east while another Humpback Whale was sighted against the shoreline near Bold Head. Fog still partially obscured the bottom portion of Blackfish Sound but soon the unmistakable single black thrusting fin of a male orca (A38) could be seen coming our way out of the fog mid- Strait in the Sound while smaller fins began appearing closer to the Swanson Island shoreline. And so began for all of us some wonderful viewing of the A30 matriline, spread-out and foraging into the Queen Charlotte Strait, they were intensely riveting to watch.  Sequences of A50 and her calves, of A54 with her playful trio of calves including her newborn, her oldest daughter, A75 and her calf, as well individual viewings of A72 and  A38 with A84 keeping pace with A39 was immensely exciting to see. While listening on our hydrophone, we could hear echolocation and briefly some resting calls but they were surprisingly silent as they foraged and rested briefly with playful interactions observed between the younger siblings with tail slaps, spy-hopping and porpoising behaviour observed. Watching A39 foraging under the water alongside the boat as it sat drifting with the engine off and A75 and her calf swimming alongside was breathtaking and the highlight for everyone today. Turning back, two Humpback Whales were soon sighted in Blackfish Sound, one was also seen coming in the direction of Donegal Head and finally on nearing Weynton Passage we encountered another. The day was a remarkable one, the snow capped Coastal Range Mountains looked majestic in the background, all of it was beautiful and unbelievable!. Also seen today: Dall’s Porpoises, Harbour Seals, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Bald Eagles, Belted Kingfishers, Herring Gulls and Black Oyster Catchers could be heard++.

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