A quiet time spent in the presence of foraging orcas and humpback whales ~ superb viewing!

Black Oystercatchers & Black Turnstones IMG_0511 IMG_0503 IMG_0506 IMG_0501 IMG_0494

Common Murre

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IMG_0287 IMG_0271 IMG_0260 IMG_0240 IMG_0234 IMG_0237It was a beautiful day that we shared in calm waters while drifting in the current at the top end of Johnstone Strait where our early sighting of orcas began this morning, with the A42's foraging near the Bauza Islets. They were foraging a distance from the shoreline, A66 foraged the furthest to the east past Blinkhorn before turning back and we saw how the rest of the pod foraged in all directions, angling back and forth across the Strait. While steadily foraging west against the flooding current and using the back eddy along the Plumper Islands, they eventually made their way out through Weynton Passage into Blackfish Sound. With reports of numerous orcas travelling quickly into Johnstone Strait via Blackney Passage and heading east, we decided to stay where we were and enjoy some quality viewing. Our time, spent drifting with the A42's was precious and intimate, going nowhere fast we enjoyed it when the orcas foraged close around us and also at a distance away from us where we observed some intensive lunging after salmon and also some playful interactions between the younger orcas and a small group of pacific white-sided dolphins. With the hydrophone deployed we were also able to listen to their A-Clan vocalizations.

How wonderful it was to see some four humpback whales feeding in wide circles a distance away and to also see the orcas foraging past them, along with the playful dolphins! As the orcas passed on out through Weynton Passage we moved slowly towards the Plumper Islands and watched as the birds sat resting, rhinoceros auklets and common murres, and soon two humpbacks surfaced simultaneously and we all so enjoyed watching them. One of the humpbacks we observed was 'trap feeding' briefly while one humpback earlier we had heard trumpeting loudly when some dolphins were charging around it, we had also seen tail lobbing and breaching behaviour! It was mesmerizing to sit and watch the grace and beauty of the two humpbacks foraging in circles close along the shoreline! The beauty of the area was so evident today, a gentle day without any wind where the breath of the humpback whales lingered long in the soft lighting. Also seen: hauled out stellar sea lions and harbour seals, red-necked phalaropes, black oystercatchers, black turnstones, dall's porpoise, belted kingfishers, a great blue heron, bald eagles and gull species.

Today's penned comments: "Thank you for a great trip, we had an amazing time and got really close to several orca. Many thanks." Mark & Izzy, England

"We have had a great trip, we saw loads  of whales and got really close! It is the highlight of our holiday. Thank you!"      Ellie & Nicky. UK

"We chose Alert Bay for viewing killer whales (orcas) and oh boy, what a viewing we had today of the A42 family! Seasmoke is probably the best of all whale watching boats in the area of NE Vancouver Island. We say it because our boat  spent the most time sitting quietly around the whales. We also saw two humpbacks in tandem (there were four in total). Our kids had a great time. Thanks Maureen & Dave, you guys rock!" Afzal, Subah, Raudah & Haiga, Edmonton

"This trip was without doubt one of the best whale watching tours we've ever had. I have waited so long to see orcas, humpback whales and pacific white-sided dolphins and on your tour we saw them!" Sandrine & Antoinette, Netherlands

"Thank you for such a wonderful intimate experience with incredible marine life in this area. It was such a great morning. Thank you for sharing your knowledge of and respect for these animals with us ~ Magic! oh and Maureen ~ your baking is incredible!" Alexis & Donald, Calgary