A wonderful mix of Orcas, Humpback whales, Minke whales and more!

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August 17th

Sightings: Orcas, Humpback whales, Minke whales, Dall’s porpoise, Harbour seals, Stellar sea lions, Bald Eagles, Black-tailed deer, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Marbled Murrelets, Common Murres, Black Turnstones, Pigeon Guillemot’s, Belted Kingfishers and Gull species.

Sometimes one has to pinch themselves to make certain we are not in a dream. It was dream-like on our tour today mainly due to the variety of whales we encountered as well as the timing of these sightings. We literally saw whale blows only minutes after departing Alder Bay. We knew there was food around due to the large group of feasting birds that seemed to be devouring a bait ball. The individual Humpback that approached the feeding frenzy of birds, started to trap-feed only minutes after we stopped to view it. The large gaping jaw parted the water in which it rose from, to scoop up the schooling fish that innocently swam by. Although it seemed effortless for the whale it certainly takes time, patience and continuous foraging to score such a meal.

Shortly after the Humpback sighting we found the two Minke whales who had an hour earlier been sighted from shore on Cormorant Island where they had been observed travelling east past the Nimpkish River. It was exciting to see these two smaller baleen whales, especially so soon after the Humpback whale encounter and then only moments later we sighted Orca blows in the distance! We literally felt like we hit the jackpot on our tour today. The orcas were from the language group called G clan. They traveled and foraged and within this mix were spontaneous surfaces from Dall’s Porpoise. How wonderful it is to see different species sharing in the abundance of the ocean. Our guests did not know which way to turn their heads as it was action packed at a full 360 degrees.

On our journey home, nature continued to reveal its splendour. A Stellar Sea Lion was thrashing about tenderizing a salmon it had successfully hunted. Humpbacks continued to keep our company and more bait balls were seen, shown to us by the large groups of foraging birds that made more noise than an orchestra tuning up. It was delightfully muddled and anarchic but music to our ears.

We saw two more Minke whales when nearing the dock at the end of our tour. It is likely the same two that we had seen earlier and was a treat to see that they were still together as sightings of Minke whales in our area is usually singular. We arrived back at the dock to off-load our emotionally drained passengers that departed with vivid memories that shall be stored in their minds for years to come.

Seasmoke Whale Watching photo’s were taken with a telephoto lens by Dave Jones and have been cropped.

Humpback whales accompanied by the eerie silence of fog!

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August 18th

Sightings: Humpback whales, Dall’s porpoise, Harbour seals, Stellar sea lions, Mink, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Marbled Murrelets, Common Murres, Red Necked Phalaropes, Belted Kingfishers and Gull species.

This morning’s tour was one of exploration. The limited visibility due to the dense fog certainly made us work hard to find critters. We island hopped and transited narrow passages to offer our guests the opportunity to view the animals that are seen closer to shore. The Harbour seals rested on exposed rocks that appeared like gravestones above the sea and gulls sat above them, distinctly white in contrast. Against the soft grey backdrop and mist-clouded trees, the Bald Eagles’ large frame looked like a mere shadow.

When arriving to areas known for Humpbacks, we stopped, shut down the engines and listened in the eerie silence. After two stops and not a single sound of a surfacing whale we decided to cross Blackfish sound using our instruments to navigate. Finally a loud, thunderous blow was heard as a Humpback rose to the surface and emptied its lungs completely of air and filled them right up again. This Humpback was identified as Moonstar and was actually feeding. On a couple of occasions Moonstar appeared jaw first out of the water to scoop up a loose school of bait fish, the perfect meal for a Humpback.

At the edge of the fog Dall’s porpoise were seen traveling. A lone Stellar Sea Lion feasted on a salmon carcass and more Humpbacks were seen as the fog lifted. Of added interest and surprise we watched as 5 – 6 mink scrambled out of the water and up onto shore on one of the islands!

Some days we have to work hard to find whales as we toil with the dynamics and spontaneous balance of ocean, tides, weather and wildlife. It is a gift when in these challenging conditions we find success and we are grateful.

Seasmoke Whale Watching photo’s have been taken by Dave Jones with a telephoto lens and have been cropped.