Magnificent beauty gifted by Mother Nature!

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September 16th

Our Sightings:

Humpback whales, Orcas (A23’s/A25’s), a Minke whale, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Dalls porpoises, Black-tailed deer, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Heron, Cormorants and Common Murres.

Today we had a tour where the wildlife literally came to us. Having departed Alder Bay in glorious sunshine, blue skies and calm seas, we headed in an easterly direction and soon switched off our engines to drift in welcomed silence. It is hard for many people these days to actually switch off their gadgets and be surrounded by the purity of nature with few distractions. Patience certainly pays off when it comes to wildlife viewing. It was the synchronized breaths we heard first before seeing the dorsal fin of an Orca slice cleanly and effortlessly through the calm ocean.

A pod of orcas, somewhat spread out passed us by, giving our guests the glorious thrill of seeing whales in the wild.  At one stage we recognised the smaller cetacean, realising that dolphins had joined the party. Together Orcas and Pacific White-sided dolphins slowed down and milled about our boat.  After spending a few more magical moments with these black and white beauties, we noticed that they were showing signs of settling in for an afternoon nap. How mesmerizing it was to see the co-operative and beautiful resting line formed by this family of resident Orca.

We moved on to find our beloved Humpbacks, and caught them in the midst of feasting, the one thing they do best, particularly at this time of year. Trap feeding and lunge feeding was observed as vulnerable bait balls drifted in and out of the massive jaws of our larger whale specie.

We continued to show our guests the best this place has to offer which included not only seals, birds and sea lions, but the smaller critters under the sea. The water was so clear we were able to point out the sea stars and urchins and follow with our eyes the stipes of bull kelp as they descended deeply in to the sea.

A Minke whale briefly showed itself as we were heading for home, giving our tour a ten out of ten for having seen such a variety of species, all in the space of a couple of hours. Thank you Mother Nature for revealing your treasures, we are truly grateful.

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

Another amazing day of marine mammal viewing!

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September 15th

Today’s Sightings:

Humpback whales, Orcas, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Harbour porpoise, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Black-tailed deer, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Cassin’s Auklets, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers, Black Oystercatchers, Blue Herons and Common Murres.

Our backyard was a medley of activity and wonderful sightings of resident and transient animals that utilize the rich and abundant nutrients provided by the sea.

On a calm and sunny afternoon we meandered amongst the islands, through scenic passageways where the trees stood like guardians on either side of where we cruised. Bald Eagles kept their eyes upon us as we cruised by and Kingfishers swooped along the shore line, vocalizing to their mate that was only a few wing beats away.

The Sea Lions now dominate some areas of coastline as they have taken occupancy and are well moved in for the winter. Their grunts and groans will now be the constant companion for those who live remotely and nearby, away from the hustle and bustle of town.

During the afternoon, many Humpback whales friskily foraged, lunging within bait balls and filtering out the trapped water through their baleen plates. These curious sights of Humpback jaws, limbs and fins are such a delight for our visiting passengers to observe and attempt to photograph.

We had an unexpected visit by a resident pod of Orcas we don’t often encounter in these parts; the B’s. They were accompanied by the A34’s who travelled in the same vicinity. We know that as we move into the second half of September and particularly into October, the sightings of Orca will be less frequent. We are making the most of these magical moments because it will come a time when our resident Orcas will move on. July is a long time to wait for these magnificent animals to return.

How blessed and grateful we are to witness such rich delights and have the perfect weather to keep us warm, dry and comfortable.

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

An amazing mix of species!

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September 14th

Our Sightings:

Humpback whales, Orca (Resident and Bigg’s Transient), Minke whales, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Dall’s porpoises, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Black-tailed deer, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers, Black Oystercatchers and Common Murres.

It was a feeding frenzy out on the water today with a number of different species all coming together to feast upon the abundance offered by the sea. Orcas (23’s/A25’s) were mixed amongst Pacific White-sided dolphins and at one stage Stellar sea lions were in the midst of this group also.

The clear, bright weather and calm, ripple-less sea allowed us to sight Humpback whales from a long distance away. Blows were seen in all directions as well as some feeding behaviour as Humpbacks lunged through bait balls. We even viewed a Minke whale feeding on one of our tours which is not a common sighting. It lunged through a tight ball of fish, giving us a view of its uniquely shaped rostrum; the jaw of a whale.

Many birds species indulged in the ocean buffet today, filling the air with vibrant squawks and shrieks. It has been witnessed that birds can accidentally be taken in the jaws of a whale when birds find themselves at the top of a bait ball, with a whale lunging from just below the surface.  Birds being released unharmed from the jaws of the whale have also been observed.

Nature continues to fascinate and inspire.

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

An unbelievable day of viewing!

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September 13th

Our Sightings:

Humpback whales, Orcas, Minke whales, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Dall’s porpoises, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers, Black Oystercatchers, Pigeon Guillemots and Common Murres.

A crisp, sunny, blue bird day was gifted us on this mid-September, two tour day.

After a few days of rain it is amazing how relieved we feel to have the sun resting upon our cheeks and turning the water into shimmering diamonds once again. Blue sky stretched for miles and the calm sea was a welcomed reprieve after a number of days of wind, rain and choppy waters.

Our morning tour was all about the Humpbacks and by afternoon the Orcas had arrived in to the area so we were able to witness the family dynamics between the three pods that transited the area. Although we had the familiar A23 and A25 pods in the area today, we were also privileged to witness a family that has not been in the area all season, the A34’s. It was lovely to see them traveling close together, swimming in unison.

The Sea Lions littered the rocks and stood out like lanterns as they were lit up by the sun, their tanned complexions brilliant and bright in the mid-day sun. Their vocals carried far across the water, reaching our eager and curious ears along with the puffs and blows of the smaller marine mammals of porpoises and dolphins transiting the area.

Birds feasted alongside the gentle giants of Humpbacks and the odd fishing boat cruised through the area in hope of catching their limit. We also had sightings of two Minke whales today! Everything was in order in this Northern Vancouver Island region and we were happy to be along for the ride.

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

A spectacular day of viewing!

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September 12th

Our Sightings:

Humpback whales, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoises, River Otters, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros and Cassins Auklets, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers, Pigeon Guillemots and Common Murres.

Freckles, Guardian, Black Pearl and Moonstar were just a few of the Humpback whales we encountered today. When we look back at our blogs written in June, some of the same names are coming up now which we recorded way back then. This area has literally become a feeding ground for Humpbacks and it happens to be right in our back yard.

Our Humpback viewing was spectacular with a variety of behaviours observed on both tours that went out today. Tail Lobbing and pectoral fin slapping caused a flurry of white water. Two Humpbacks were seen swimming amongst a large group of Sea Lions and at times it seemed as though the whales were showing who was boss. Tail slaps occurred right beside where the sea lions were swimming, perhaps in a means to communicate or displaying signs of irritation. If only we could really understand what the physical gestures mean by our resident Humpbacks we so often get to observe.

During one tour today, Humpbacks fed by lunging right into the centre of a bait ball and passengers all witnessed a fabulous breach from an unidentified Humpback. Clear skies and a deep blue sea made this vision a spectacle and will be imprinted on our passenger’s memories for a long time.

Other highlights on this fabulous day of cruising consisted of numerous sightings of dolphins, some seen soon after leaving the dock in Alert Bay. The family of River Otters came out on cue while our Alder Bay guests donned their flotation suits, not to mention the Stellar Sea Lions whose numbers are rising daily.

It is truly a remarkable stretch of coastline, speckled with charming islets and islands and all sewn together by picturesque Straits and Inlets. The backdrop of stunning mountains and our rich and luscious temperate rainforest is home sweet home for all the creatures we have observed on this stunning autumn day.

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

Wickedly wet with wonderful Orcas, Humpback whales and more!

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Today’s Sightings:

Orcas, Humpback whales, Pacific White-sided dolphins, River otters, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros and Cassins Auklets, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers, Pigeon Guillemots and Common Murres.

During our tour today, grey skies merged with grey seas and heavy rain fell, all omens of seasonal change. Even though spirits were dampened by the unfavourable conditions, it was all part of the adventure in the Pacific Northwest. We are in a Northern rainforest after all.

It didn’t take long for our seasoned skipper to find the whales everyone was eagerly searching for, the beautiful resident killer whales. Two pods were foraging in a nearby cove and against the backdrop of grey, their black and white colourations appeared sharp and stunning. Our guests were soon smiling and the rain suddenly had little significance.

With the rain in the air and clouds as a canvas, it was difficult to make out the blows of the Humpback whales. Instead we searched for a break against the ocean horizon as whales rose up towards the surface, their backs arched and flukes graciously lifting up and scooping water along the way.

Today we were guided by dolphins as we crossed to the other side of a major strait. A family of River Otters entertained our guests right at the dock at one of our pick up points, and the rain turned into liquid sunshine as the sun’s rays momentarily appeared from behind the clouds.

It was another fabulous day exploring the waters of Northern Vancouver Island.

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

Fall is in the air and the magic continues!

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September 10th

Our Sightings:

Humpback whales, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers, Pigeon Guillemots and Common Murres.

The gift nature offers us on a daily basis is priceless. All one has to do is slow down, observe, listen and receive. At Seasmoke it is our job to get you out in the midst of it all and allow the complexity of this eco-system to amaze you.

We were right in the elements of weather today as the wind provided a look into the different moods this area has to offer. The ocean was lively as wind formed waves that gave us at times a bumpy ride and the odd surprise of ocean spray. Thankfully our suits kept us warm and dry.

The Humpback whales continued to feast upon the endless supply of nutrients. Birds fed in chaotic harmony alongside these gentle giants who have adopted this region as their summer feeding ground.  The odd Humpback breach was sighted as well as Harbour Seals and Sea Lions who were teetering on the rocks about to be submerged by the daily rising tide.

Nature was vocal today as the sounds of weather and wildlife resonated throughout the region. Nature speaks loudly to those who listen.

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