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 amazing encounter with Orcas, Humpback and Minke whales!

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Today’s Sightings: Orca, Humpback whales, Minke whales, Dall’s porpoises, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Common Murres, Belted Kingfishers, Rhinoceros Auklets, Black Oystercatchers and Gull species.

It was another marine mammal packed tour today as we saw three different species of whales. We had only been on the boat for two minutes when our first Minke whale encounter occurred. We were travelling from Alert Bay to Alder Bay and just about to pick up our final guests.

Once everyone was onboard we ventured towards one of the small islands which often houses numerous Bald Eagles and an ‘easy to see’ Bald Eagle nest which we like to point out to our passengers. As we traveled, another Minke whale surfaced and nearby this Baleen whale was a small group of Dall’s porpoises steadily traveling in the same direction. Already ‘all creatures great and small’ was coming to life in the first fifteen minutes of our adventure!

After a lovely look at the Minke whale and porpoises we motored toward our Humpback whale feeding grounds. It wasn’t long before we saw our first blow, followed by a fluke rising from the sea so elegantly. Suddenly, smaller blows and triangular, as black dorsal fins rose up to the surface in clear view. “Orca”, was soon called out excitedly from our boat.

It was a pod consisting of approximately six individuals. Tucked in amongst this pod was a much smaller, younger whale. While listening to the radio chatter coming from the researchers, it was announced that this was a new calf, born in December of 2016. We were lucky enough to see an eight month old Orca. This group were the T90’s and they were Biggs (Transient) Orca. Salmon is not on the menu for these Killer Whales, instead they prefer Porpoises, Dolphins, Seals, Sea Lions and even Minke whale, just to name a few species that they prey upon. They are stealth hunters, silently cruising the coastline in hope of finding an unaware Harbour Seal or perhaps hunting co-operatively within their family to literally separate a dolphin or porpoise from its pod.

For the final portion of our journey we watched a Humpback whale forage closely along the shoreline. The bull kelp secured to the bottom of the seabed, and the connected stipe and fronds floating on the surface was being gently disturbed by the Humpback. At times we could see the fronds floating over the actual back of the Humpback whale. An astonishing finish to a fabulous tour that gifted us the spontaneous treasures of our natural world.

Phenomenal sightings on all of our tours today!

 

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Sightings today: Orcas (Resident and Biggs Transient ), Humpback whales, Dall’s porpoises, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Black Turnstones, Black Oystercatchers, Red- necked Phalaropes, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Great Blue Herons, Belted Kingfishers and Gull species

It was a busy day at Seasmoke Whale Watching as three tours went out to play.  Numerous visitors arrived on the shores of Cormorant Island in search of the rich First Nation Culture that is present here, as well as an opportunity to experience our glorious oceanic backyard.

In the early wee hours of the morning the Resident Orcas travelled west in Blackfish Sound, their presence detected by whale calls heard on the hydrophones of the nearby Research Station, Orcalab.  This land-based research station has been present for over four decades. They not only listen to the underwater sounds 24/7 every day of every year, they record the vocalisations as well. The founders of Orcalab and volunteers have also been mapping the movements of these Northern Resident family groups including the changes within the family units. It is the longest ongoing land-based research of its kind.

We encountered the Orcas near the Foster Islands where they were still  travelling  west and observed traveling, resting, socializing, foraging and feeding behaviours. Seen amongst the Orcas was the occasional blow and the lifting of a fluke from Humpback whale. It is humbling to witness both an Orca and a Humpback in the same vicinity, sharing in the abundance of the sea and co-existing in what seems like a harmonious manner.  Our encounters with the Humpback whales today were numerous and wonderful and we were fortunate in observing both lunge and bubble-net feeding.

During the day the prevailing NW wind picked up, forming white-caps on what had been a glassy calm sea.  And although the conditions changed, the wildlife in the area continued about their day. The Humpback whale that was bubble net feeding continued feasting, the birds in flight were not hindered by the increasing wind and the Harbour seals remained upon the rocks at low tide despite the change in shore break as water splashed against the reefs.

On our way home after a fabulous late afternoon tour of viewing Humpback whales and other marine life, our guests onboard observed a small group of Biggs Transient Orcas in hunting mode (of seals) around a small group of Islands where earlier today on both the morning and afternoon tours, guests had enjoyed watching the same Harbour seals, mothers and their pups, hauled out and resting. That all changed this evening with the arrival of the three Transient Orcas in and amongst the reefs and islands.

Like a continuously flowing paint brush on a forever changing canvas, the turning tide and change in current and predators on the move, altered the conditions yet again.

It was a splendid day where folks from all over the globe chose to visit and cool down in the sea-breeze blowing on friendly Cormorant Island.

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

Great Start to our 2017 Season

It was our first day of 2017 on the water for Seasmoke Whale Watching Tours! What a wonderful day. We saw 3 Humpback whales, a group of Transient orcas and some Dall’s porpoises. We also saw Rhinoceros Auklets,  Pigeon Guillemots,  Black Oyster Catchers, Bald Eagles, Harbour seals, and the raw natural beauty of Northern Vancouver Island.

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Marvellous viewing of Orcas, Humpback Whales and a Minke Whale!

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Today’s Sightings: Humpback Whales, Biggs (Transient) Orcas, a Minke Whale! Dall’s Porpoises, Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Red-Necked Phalaropes, Common Murres, Marbled Murrelets, Black Oystercatchers, Pigeon Guillemots, Bald Eagles, Belted Kingfishers, Sooty Shearwaters, Great Blue Herons and Gulls.

It was a great day for viewing Biggs (Transient) Orcas, but ahead of that, on our first tour our passengers were fortunate in seeing a Minke Whale right in front of Alert Bay! The Biggs (Transient) Orcas were the T059s + one other that was not identified; there were five orcas in total. They were taking long dives and went after a Steller Sea Lion unsuccessfully. They came very close to our boat in passing which was extremely surprising and also exciting as it is always difficult to determine when Transients will surface and where; their dive sequence is very unpredictable and we do not deliberately try to get close to them.

Four Humpback Whales were also observed, Freckles and Tag and a Mink on our way home that was seen scrambling along the rocky shoreline of a quiet waterway!

On the afternoon tour, more Biggs (Transient) Orcas were reported passing through the Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve and were identified as T002B and T060B who were travelling together. They were taking long dives and swimming steadily to the west following along the Vancouver Island shoreline. They were seen passing by in front of Alert Bay at 5.30 p.m. this evening! Five Humpback Whales were observed feeding back and forth, along with a myriad of seabirds and Dall’s Porpoises while Steller Sea Lions and Harbour Seals were seen hauled out and swimming. It was indeed a marvellous day of viewing!

Photo credits: Muriel Halle. All photos have been taken with a telephoto lens and have been cropped.

 

An exciting day with Biggs (Transient ) Orcas, Humpback Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises and Sea Lions!

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Today’s Sightings: Humpback Whales, Biggs (Transient) Orcas, Dall’s Porpoises, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Red-Necked Phalaropes, Common Murres, Bald Eagles, Belted Kingfishers, Fork-tailed Storm Petrels, Great Blue Herons and Gulls.

It was an exciting morning for everyone when AJ our skipper looked up at the exact precise  moment and saw dorsal fins in the distance! After a lengthy dive underwater, they finally surfaced, four orcas who were believed to be Biggs (Transient) Orcas and who were later confirmed as Biggs (Transient) Orcas, the T101’s (T101, T102, T101A, T101B). During our time viewing the orcas, we observed them travelling from Stubbs Island and down and back through Cormorant Channel. They went after a Steller Sea Lion swimming alone but were not successful, the Sea Lion was seen swimming in the opposite direction when the orcas turned back.

As well as orcas, there was a large group of some 200+ dolphins who were observed initially off Mitchell Bay, they were steadily on the move, while Dall’s Porpoise’s joined us alongside, bow-riding briefly! It could not have been busier or better to have two Humpback Whales in our vicinity while all else was happening all around us, one of them was Argonaut!

The sea was flat calm today and made it possible for AJ to be lucky to spot the dorsal fins when he did. It was a fabulous Sunday outing and exhilarating to see such a diverse abundance of Cetaceans and seabirds with increased numbers of Common Murres, so close to our home port!

A large group of Dolphins were also observed travelling quickly west in front of Alert Bay when they suddenly turned back to the east, they were travelling fast and were swimming close along the shoreline of Cormorant Island.

Photo credits: Andrew Jennings. Photo’s have been taken with a telephoto lens and have been cropped.

 

A fantastic day! Resident and Transient Orcas and Humpback Whales!

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Today’s Sightings: Northern Resident Orcas, Biggs (Transient) Orcas, Humpback Whales, Steller Sea Lions, Dall’s Porpoises, Harbour Seals, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Red-necked Phalaropes, Bald Eagles, Belted Kingfishers, Black Turnstones and Gull species.

What an incredible morning for viewing marine life! We first encountered the A42’s who were foraging west from Kaikash to Blinkhorn while on our hydrophone we were able to listen to their beautiful A-Clan vocalizations! Afterwards we observed two Humpback Whales, one we identified as Argonaut. Meanwhile, the Bigg’s (Transient) Orcas, T059 & T041’s who had been reported earlier travelling east along the north side of Malcolm Island, we observed them first in heavy current porpoising fast around Stubbs Island and watched as they made their way close along the Plumper Islands shoreline while the Steller Sea Lions quickly hauled out of the water just ahead of them!

It was an amazing morning, with so much variety in the wildlife sightings and endless activity that was happening all around us to watch, seemingly at the same time!

Photo Credits: Muriel Halle. All photo’s have been taken by a telephoto lens and have been cropped.

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