Today’s sightings: Humpback whales, Harbour Seals, Bald Eagles, Marbled Murrelets, Common Murres, Black Oystercatchers, Belted Kingfishers, Red Necked Phalaropes, Pigeon Guillemot’s, Cassin’s Auklets and Gull species.
It was a gentle, calm sea this morning as we headed out to explore this Northern Vancouver Island region. The fog had lifted so the visibility was fair consisting of mainly patchy fog, which made for easier navigation.
The Northern Resident Orca’s had headed out of the area in a westerly direction and so it was the Humpbacks that kept us company today. We had the privilege of watching Guardian ‘logging’. This is resting behaviour. Humpbacks literally float on the surface of the sea with most of their body submerged and only a small portion of their slate-grey back visible. In this state they are easily unseen so boaters have to be careful. Thankfully they still have to breathe so the releasing of a large volume of air can be heard and often sighted, so this is the give-away. Their breathing sounds lethargic and relaxing as though the whale is in a deep trance. It is astonishing to witness and we did so for nearly 20 minutes. It was a speed boat that zoomed by which woke the sleeping whale, who displayed its presence with a tail slap.
We identified Guardian and Argonaut today and although there were other whales in the area, we did not get a clear enough look at the detailed patterns of their under fluke to figure out who the others were. It is hard to believe that only 15 or so years ago not a single Humpback would have been sighted in these waters. Today we have a catalogue of the whales that regularly use this region as their summer feeding ground; their profiles written and flukes photographed. This catalogue is being added to every season when calves arrive alongside well known females, as well as new, ‘first-time here’ whales are recorded. As more whales show up, the more cautionary boaters and the fishing industry have to be. Over the past few years there have been incidences with boats and whales as well as whales becoming tangled in fishing gear. It is important for us to remember that traditionally this has been a foraging ground, a home for Humpback whales, and their return is a wondrous thing. We are simply visiting their home or passing through and must treat it and them with absolute respect.
How different our days are when out on the water. One never knows what they are going to experience. Each and every day offers a unique encounter with the wildlife that call this region home.