Today was an incredibly interesting day with so much to see beginning with sightings of bald eagles, pigeon guillemots, black oystercatchers, black turnstones, gull species ++(glaucous-winged, mew and herring) and hauled out harbour seals and then 100’s of gulls massed together (with common murres and rhinoceros auklets), sitting on the water, while 100’s more were flying in circles, as were bald eagles, all of them gathered where herring had also gathered in the flooding current passing through Weynton Passage into Johnstone Strait.
We initially sighted a humpback whale fluking in the distance at the top end of Blackfish Sound and travelled on further east to where more humpback whales were seen, all of them focussed on feeding in specific areas in Blackfish Sound. It was difficult to keep count of them and their movements in the flooding current; there were at least five that we saw, Guardian, Ripple and Conger were among them! A stellar sea lion was actively fishing in their midst as were pacific-white-sided dolphins and dalls porpoise, it kept us all busy looking from one side of the boat at the sea lion and to the other side to watch the dolphins and porpoise and humpbacks, three humpbacks were seemingly following one another at one point!
A bald eagle was sighted near Little Hanson Island, it was in the water swimming towards the shoreline and we were intent watching it from a distance, all of us were relieved when it hauled itself ashore with a large salmon and dragged it up onto the rocks, just ahead of a cruise ship navigating its way through Blackney Passage and several humpback whales! It seems that two other bald eagles were in the water and swimming with a salmon in their grasp around the same time that we were watching our eagle! Meanwhile a black-tailed deer was seen grazing up on the shoreline…it was busy out there today!
After the cruise ship had passed we enjoyed watching Conger, realizing the whale was trap feeding (a variation of trap feeding where the whale opens its mouth and closes it after small fish/herring has swam inside its mouth, different from lunge feeding). Conger is one of just a few humpback whales who has been observed trap feeding in our area so this was really good to see today! After viewing time with Ripple, Guardian and Conger we headed for home in Johnstone Strait and were nearing Turn Point and while scanning backwards to the east, a broadside view of a fin was suddenly visible…ORCAS! Indeed orcas were seen, three of them, two swimming together and another male further behind. Initially it was thought they were Biggs Transients but it was later confirmed as being some of the I11’s. What a fantastic day that just kept on surprising all of us!
**Update: The I11’s continued travelling to the west, reported being off the Stephenson Islands in Johnstone Strait around 3:30 p.m. Meanwhile, passengers from our tour today, driving to the end of Fir Street in Alert Bay, saw three orcas entering into Pearse Passage around 4.00 p.m. and swimming between the reefs, close along the shoreline while a humpback whale surfaced and dived nearby. They watched as the orcas continued around the NW corner of the Pearse Islands where they lost sight of them, at that time they were seen heading east in Cormorant Channel in the direction of Weynton Passage.
Today’s penned comments: “Thank you for this very nice trip. We really enjoyed watching the whales and we loved your muffins. It was amazing! Thank you. ” Mark & Rebecca, Netherlands
“Maureen and Dave, What a delight it was to join you on this whale watch trip. You took great care of us (delicious muffins, scones and tea!) and found the whales – my first time seeing a humpback! A stellar sea lion, an eagle swimming with a fish, how often does one get to see that?! AND even ORCAS even though it was unlikely that we would see them. We enjoyed the small intimate group feel and Maureen, your squeals of delight! Thank you and all the best.” Jane and Sean from the Sunshine Coast, BC
Thank you so much for another amazing trip out on the boat: I enjoy it every time I come out for a visit. I really enjoyed seeing all of the wildlife and I’m glad that we had a surprise of seeing the orcas towards the end! Thanks again, your great niece Emma”. New Bruswick