Our sightings: Humpback whales (mother with calf), Harbour seals, Dall’s Porpoises, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Bald Eagles, Belted Kingfishers, Black Oystercatchers, Cassin’s and Rhinoceros Auklets, Red-Necked Phalaropes, Common Murres, Mink and Black-tailed deer with fawn.
A wildlife extravaganza is how we would describe our tour today. All creatures great and small came out to play, feed and forage starting with a sighting of a Mink scrambling along the rocks on Pearce Island, adjacent to Alert Bay. It appeared as though every second cedar tree had its guardian, the Bald Eagle, poised so elegantly on what seemed like a flimsy branch. Eaglets were spotted today, showing signs that they soon will fledge. On two occasions these young birds flapped their wings as though warming up and stretching muscles in preparation for their very first flight.
As we traveled on crystal clear water at a tide low enough for us to observe all the intertidal delights, the thick fog enveloped us. In limited visibility we shut down the engines and watched the wispy fog float by as buoyant as smoke. The stirring sounds of Humpbacks surfacing could be heard from all directions. Suddenly, breaking the eerie sound of distance blows, a whale surfaced close by our silently floating vessel. A small Humpback appeared slapping the surface with its tail as it descended on a deeper dive. Another, larger whale surfaced but this one came up jaw first, its mouth wide open in preparation for scooping up tight balls of schooling fish. This technique of feeding has been conveniently named ‘Trap Feeding’. As the smaller whale rolled on the surface of the seas, and the larger whale stayed close by, it was obvious to the guests and crew onboard that this was a mum and calf. How delightful and unexpected to witness a family group of Humpbacks.
As the fog lifted we were able to view some of the other whales we had heard at a distance. One of them was the first sighting of the season, a whale named ‘Chunky’.
As we headed for home, feeling exhilarated having observed nature so abundantly, it became evident that our tour was not yet over. Dall’s porpoises suddenly appeared by our boat, swimming lazily on the surface as we navigated through a group of picturesque islets. We came across a pod of White-sided dolphins milling about in another scenic passage and to top this all off, a female Black-tailed deer appeared with a fawn in tow, foraged fearlessly on the shore.
As our guests stepped off the boat, their grins were as wide as a crescent moon and their eyes displayed gratitude, for they had witnessed the magic of this special place where nature’s beauty abounds.