Humpback whales, Orca’s, a partial eclipse and seasmoke drifting far and wide!

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Today’s sightings: Orca, Humpback whales, Stellar sea lions, Dall’s porpoises, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Black Turnstones, Red-necked Phalaropes, Kingfishers, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Black Oystercatchers and various Gull species.

Humpback whales, Orca, a partial eclipse and drifting Seasmoke were all highlights from our day of touring in this Northern Vancouver Island region today.

It was a cloudy, grey day but the colour dimmed even more so when a partial solar eclipse occurred while we were out on the water. This is when the moon passes between the earth and sun, blocking a portion of the sun. It seems as though a shadow from a huge mountain hovered above us and the entire area turned eerie quiet. Whether or not the whales and other animals could sense this event, we all thought about it and wondered.

Every day we see numerous Humpback whale blows on the distant horizon and everyday it seems the numbers are increasing. More feasting occurred today, the menu provided by the fragile food chain that needs to feed so many different species in this area. Orcas were also in the vicinity today and the A30’s and I15’s kept our guests company for a portion of each tour. In the morning the Orcas were travelling west in Blackfish Sound and by the afternoon they were easterly bound in Johnstone Strait.  It is fascinating to watch the orcas spread out and forage with at times miles in between the individuals. When a turn from one individual is made, you suddenly glance through binoculars far across the Strait and realise that every single whale has turned. Perhaps it is telepathic or maybe one specific call was given by the matriarch, and so every whale is guided in this change of direction.

As we head into late summer, autumn only weeks away, we are seeing the first signs of migrating birds. Yesterday one of our birding guests identified an unusual bird for this region, a Wandering Tattler. The Stellar Sea Lions are growing in numbers and pretty soon we shall start seeing the Sooty Shearwaters gathering in large numbers, having a last feed before their impressively long journey to New Zealand.
We are entering into the part of the season that every year wins the hearts of all the locals who call this place home.

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

Bubble net feeding Humpback whales, Orcas and so much more!

 

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August 20th

Our sightings: Orca, Humpback whales, Stellar sea lions, Dall’s porpoises, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Black Turnstones, a Wandering Tattler, Red-necked Phalaropes, Kingfishers, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Black Oystercatchers and various Gull species.

It was a day of feasting bubble-net feeding Humpbacks. The overcast but calm weather provided excellent whale viewing conditions. Blows were seen from miles away and when a whale’s limb appeared above the surface, whether it was a tail, head or pectoral fin, it too could be easily seen from a fair distance away.

Bubble net feeding is a technique that has only in recent years been observed in these waters. In early summer, only one whale was seen using this technique and now we are witnessing an additional whale. Lucky and Moonstar are our bubble-net feeding masters and they are a delight to watch.

Having observed Lucky using this method throughout the summer, it seems as though this whale has refined it’s feeding technique. The circular bubble nets created, seems tighter and smaller with an additional circle created in the centre. Perhaps this is helping concentrate the bait-ball of fish even more. Lunging through the centre of this circle of bubbles is energetically athletic. On tour today we witnessed a Stellar sea lion feasting in the same net of bubbles, it made for some extraordinary viewing!

Throughout the day our guests did not know which way to turn their heads as numerous Humpback blows were seen in all directions. Some whales were foraging on their own while a few pairs were seen travelling together. Orcas showed up in the latter part of the day so we indulged in some fantastic viewing of these black and white beauties.

Seasmoke Whale Watching photo’s have been taken by Dave Jones using a telephoto lens and have been cropped. The Bald Eagle and photo’s of guests onboard were taken by Robin Quirk and have been cropped as well.