Weekend of Wonders

Over the Labour Day long weekend we had adventures galore as the MV Seasmoke ventured out in Alert Bay’s spectacular backyard.

Both days we had extremely low tides so each morning we set off in search of black bears foraging on the intertidal zone along Vancouver Island shoreline near Alder Bay.  

One out of two days we struck gold as we sighted a lone black bear which we could barely make out due to the extremely low visibility. Yes, fog kept us company throughout both mornings, particularly Sunday when we could hardly see beyond the bow of our boat.

Still, even in ‘pea soup’ fog we were able to find whales which surprised and delighted our guests. Yesterday we had the privilege of spending time with a number of pods from the language group A clan. At times with the underwater microphone down we could hear the occasional call, including the odd chatter from Pacific White-sided dolphins. It was a stunning experience watching a pod traveling close together, synchronized as they surfaced to breath and a large male acting as ‘tail end Charlie’. This individual was a fully grown male as his dorsal fin stood 6 feet at least in height. How handsome he was as his black fin broke the smooth surface of the mirrored sea, creating hardly a ripple.

By afternoon there was a small gap where the sun was shining and blue sky poked through the wisps of mist, which gave us an ocean blue horizon and the view of black dorsal fins spread right across Blackfish Sound. The whales were heading in a Westerly direction, all these families, some with miles between eachother, yet they were all going in the same direction and surfacing at the same time. There must be communication and interaction going on between them that we don’t even know anything about.

During Sunday afternoon we randomly came across Humpbacks by being in the right place at the right time. Today was a little different. We really had to work hard at finding these gentle giants, by stopping and listening for blows, then gently maneuvering in their direction. Finally after perseverance we were in a hot spot and suddenly surrounded by blows from at least three directions. We were relieved to see the large grey body appear, a tall breath released and finally the famous rising fluke. We recognized at least three different Humpbacks from a quick look at the pattern underneath their fluke.

Like usual the fog softened and quietened our surroundings, accept for the unique and varied voices of nature, like the humorous call of the Common Murre and the deep squawk of the Great Blue Heron. We heard the breaths of porpoises and sea lions and fog horns from large vessels in the distance. It was a magical weekend, filled with wonders.

Hayley ShephardComment