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.

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.

Humpback Whale Festival and more!

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September 7th

Today’s Sightings:

Orcas, Humpback whales, A Minke whale, Dall’s porpoise, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Gull species, Common Ravens, Black Oystercatchers and Common Murres.

We have named our tour today as the Humpback Whale Festival! Although we had a beautiful sighting of Orcas during the first part of our tour today, it was literally the Humpbacks that stole the show.

Due to the numbers of Humpback whales in the area, making the most of the food that has become readily available in the latter part of summer and early fall, even when we are transiting towards a reported sighting Orca, it is the Humpbacks that we consistently see along the way.

We observed some entertaining behaviour today as an individual Humpback whale rolled about while feeding on a bait ball that sailed by just beneath the surface. During a twenty minute time span, the same whale leapt clear out of the water, maintaining the Humpbacks reputation as being one of the most acrobatic whales in the world. Pectoral slaps were also seen and our guests managed to count over twenty tail slaps delivered by another individual.

Salmon was on the menu for a number of animals today, including a Bald Eagle whom we saw tearing away at the flesh of a freshly caught fish. A large group of Sea Lions were on the hunt and a small pod of Porpoises foraged purposely for salmon that were eagerly and traditionally making their way towards the rivers to spawn.

Even after all of this action, our tour was not yet done. The final sighting of a large marine mammal was of a Minke Whale. It was as though this smaller, less acrobatic and fairly solitary whale wanted the last word. This sleek, fast moving and somewhat shy whale surfaced as we were heading back to base.

As the days continue getting shorter and the nights are cooling down significantly, the wildlife seems to be gaining in numbers as the food remains abundant. It makes one wonder what on earth will we experience tomorrow and how lucky we are that we get to journey again in this ocean paradise.

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