Humpback Whales in their glory!

June 17th

The sky was completely blue with not a single cloud in it, and the ocean was like glass. Everything glistened today. The bull kelp, heads of Harbour seals and the backs of Porpoises and Humpbacks sparkled like diamonds as their water-soaked backs came up to the surface.

At the beginning of our tour, it was slack tide which meant the water lacked current and was still. This enabled us to get close to reefs and islands to look more intimately along the shore. From this vantage point, we viewed Bald Eagles which were delicately balanced on tops of trees and observed a young Eaglet in one of the nests. We have the privilege of spending the summer watching this little one grow.

We came across a mother Humpback and her calf. As the two of them surfaced side by side, we could see that one was so much smaller than the other. We saw the stunning display of a full breach as the smaller Humpback rose clear from the water and landed with a huge splash. It was an astonishing sight to see! As they swam slowly but steadily in all directions we watched and listened and with our engines turned off their breath could easily be heard.

Today felt like the first day of summer and how grateful we all were to be on the water witnessing all the sunshine and beauty.

Wonderful sightings in Blackfish Sound ~

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June 13th
We experienced a break in the rain during our afternoon tour today; sunlight, patchy clouds and calm seas welcomed us.
We had a guest join us who had lived in Alert Bay in the early 70’s. It was exciting for us all to be touring around his old stomping ground which included Orcalab on Hanson Island.
It was in this area where all the wildlife came out to play. At least five Humpbacks foraged just off the lab in Blackfish Sound, Dall’s porpoise appeared on the glassy surface of the sea, and a vigorous Stellar Sea Lion slapped a salmon about, it was held securely in the sea lions jaws. Rhinoceros Auklets foraged as well; up they would pop from a dive with a small silver fish in its beak which glistened in the afternoon sun.
A beautiful day with delightful people and stunning wildlife and scenery. Thank you Northern Vancouver Island.

At​ one with the elements of nature ~

 

June 12th

Rain and wind did not keep us away from heading out on an afternoon tour to experience this stunning and picturesque area. The dramatic weather enhanced the beauty that surrounded us. Misty clouds whisked through the trees on the mountainsides, wind waves crashed over reefs and soaked the Harbour seals who lazed in the overcast conditions.

We travelled through protected passageways where wind could not touch us, and the calm, tranquil water gave us the chance to photograph numerous Eagles who dried their soggy winds in the South Easterly breeze. Innumerable Humpbacks, Stellar Sea lions and Harbour seals foraged in Weynton Passage where the strong flood current stirred up the nutrients from the sea floor. An added surprise to the tour was the sighting of a Minke Whale on the way home!
Our guests on board MV Seasmoke were delighted to be sheltered from the rain by our boat canopy but still intimate with nature being on a small boat nice and close to the water. At one with Nature, we were once again.

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.

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.

Into and out of the rain we went!

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September 9th

Today’s Sightings:

Orcas, Humpback whales, a Minke Whale, Dall’s porpoises, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers and Common Murres.

Signs of fall are in the air as storm clouds and heavy rain joined us on the first of two trips we had out today. Thankfully rain doesn’t deter the wildlife in any way so it was another animal packed day of touring.

Humpback whales continue to be the highlight during our tours, due to their dynamic feeding behaviour, their large bodies and explosive blows, and the numbers of individuals we are encountering. At least twenty whales were viewed today and some who have been in the area since the middle of spring when our season was just beginning.

By the time our afternoon tour was underway; orcas (A23’s/A25’s) had come in to the area and were foraging in Beaver Cove. Dall’s porpoises were foraging in the same vicinity and by this time the clouds had parted, blue sky appeared and the sun dried off the damp.

September is all about abundance. The nutrient rich ocean is at its richest so all the marine mammals, bird species, bears and other marine life all have food at the ready.

In some ways it is the opposite in regard’s to us humans. Tourists are now fewer in numbers, the tourism season is winding down and  locals are starting to prepare for the coming winter months. As September moves onwards to October we begin to see a sudden change in the weather and the wildlife. Until then, we will continue to proudly show people our abundantly beautiful back yard.

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

A wonderful way to spend a day!

 

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September 8th

Today’s Sightings:

Orcas (A23’s/A25’s), Humpback whales, a Minke whale, Dall’s porpoises, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Belted Kingfishers, Gull species, Black Oystercatchers and Common Murres.

Moments after leaving the Alert Bay dock we were met by a Humpback Whale. Our guests were pleased by the sudden appearance of a whale only minutes after they joined us for a ‘whale watching’ tour. We are grateful when nature works its magic. After spending a few minutes with this individual, it gave us a memorable farewell as it executed a full breach, which we surprisingly all managed to see.

Stellar Sea Lions have multiplied in numbers and are now congregating in large numbers on neighbouring islets and rocks. Not only does their fur colourations and neck mimic those of a male lion, their roars and grunts do also. Our guests can often hear the sounds coming from these concentrated groups before seeing them and even at a distance, if the wind is blowing in the right direction, we can smell them also.

More than twenty Humpbacks were in the area where we journeyed to today and some familiar flukes were recognized. Freckles, Slash and Black Pearl were but a few that we identified, all of them at some stage lunged through the middle of bait balls and feasted before our eyes.

When dealing with the dynamics of weather and wildlife, during a tour it is always a gamble when figuring out which direction to go. During the latter part of our tour today, there was report about Orcas heading into the area from the East. Often, when coming from this direction, the first stop for the whales is the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve. This is a whale sanctuary and therefore an area no one is allowed to enter. Often the whales spend a considerable amount of time socializing within their family or social pod as well as massaging their bodies on the smooth pebbled beaches. On the odd occasion they pass through fairly quickly, therefore it is worth the trip down the Strait to see what we can see. We did encounter Orca during our visit down to the Reserve where the orcas were today, and although they were inside of the Reserve boundary, we gave our guests the opportunity to witness these beautiful whales in their habitat, completely uninterrupted by humans.

Our adventure was completed after a cruise amongst the islands and through the narrow scenic channels with the forest close to our sides. We enjoyed visions of Bald Eagles and fully fledged Eaglets in their forested kingdom, their eyes poised towards our direction as we drifted by and we also had a brief sighting of a Minke whale on our way home.

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