Sightings: Resident Orcas (the I16s, I4s and I65s along with the A30s), Humpback whales, Dall’s porpoises, a Pacific White-sided dolphin, Stellar Sea Lions, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Black-tailed deer, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Marbled Murrelets, Common Murres, Great Blue Herons, Black Oystercatchers and Gull species.
We began our first tour of the day where fog in places limited our visibility. We decided to take the more scenic route to stay near the shoreline and forest, where scenes of Eagles proudly perched and Harbour seals lining the kelp covered reefs and rocks could be viewed by our guests.
Once we arrived deeper into the Broughton Archipelago patches of clear sky and sunshine offered the opportunity to search for and find Humpback Whales. It was a flurry of activity as a tightly bundled bait ball formed off a nearby headland. It was the mighty meal the birds and whales had been patiently waiting for. The sound was chaotic and unorganized as the vocal birds argued over their prey and the Humpbacks surfaced releasing their powerful breath. Nothing can break up a party like a Humpback lunge feeding right through the middle of the bait ball. The bigger mouth always wins.
Throughout the tour there was a sighting of a large group of Stellar Sea Lions cruising close to shore, sharing this limited space with a foraging Humpback. Dall’s Porpoise and an unusual sighting of a lone Pacific White-sided Dolphin made it on our species list, as well as a single Black-tailed deer and a number of Great Blue Herons seen perched up in trees.
In the afternoon it was nap time as we watched the Northern Resident Orca form a resting line. This resting behaviour is frequently seen in this region and it is an absolute privilege to experience. Orcas are one of the most socially complex animals that exist on our planet and when they sleep they display this tightly woven family connection. In this vast ocean environment, there are no rooms for whales to go in to. They have no need for a blanket to wrap their bodies in for comfort. The ocean is open. It is where they forage, feed, socialize, travel and it is where they rest. Instead of a room or a blanket, they have only their family and it is all they need. Young whales and mothers are often seen on the inside and the larger male Orcas frame the outside of the resting line. Their movements through the water slow down, their breath softens and they swim side by side, as if nearly touching. At times they may linger briefly on the surface of the sea, but they will always descend, then return to breathe completely synchronized with each and every family member.
When one is sitting silently in a drifting boat, watching this awesome scene, you cannot help but feel completely humbled, honoured and touched. It is moments like these that can change you.
Seasmoke Whale Watching photo’s have been taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.