Humpback whales, Orca’s, a partial eclipse and seasmoke drifting far and wide!

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Today’s sightings: Orca, Humpback whales, Stellar sea lions, Dall’s porpoises, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Black Turnstones, Red-necked Phalaropes, Kingfishers, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Black Oystercatchers and various Gull species.

Humpback whales, Orca, a partial eclipse and drifting Seasmoke were all highlights from our day of touring in this Northern Vancouver Island region today.

It was a cloudy, grey day but the colour dimmed even more so when a partial solar eclipse occurred while we were out on the water. This is when the moon passes between the earth and sun, blocking a portion of the sun. It seems as though a shadow from a huge mountain hovered above us and the entire area turned eerie quiet. Whether or not the whales and other animals could sense this event, we all thought about it and wondered.

Every day we see numerous Humpback whale blows on the distant horizon and everyday it seems the numbers are increasing. More feasting occurred today, the menu provided by the fragile food chain that needs to feed so many different species in this area. Orcas were also in the vicinity today and the A30’s and I15’s kept our guests company for a portion of each tour. In the morning the Orcas were travelling west in Blackfish Sound and by the afternoon they were easterly bound in Johnstone Strait.  It is fascinating to watch the orcas spread out and forage with at times miles in between the individuals. When a turn from one individual is made, you suddenly glance through binoculars far across the Strait and realise that every single whale has turned. Perhaps it is telepathic or maybe one specific call was given by the matriarch, and so every whale is guided in this change of direction.

As we head into late summer, autumn only weeks away, we are seeing the first signs of migrating birds. Yesterday one of our birding guests identified an unusual bird for this region, a Wandering Tattler. The Stellar Sea Lions are growing in numbers and pretty soon we shall start seeing the Sooty Shearwaters gathering in large numbers, having a last feed before their impressively long journey to New Zealand.
We are entering into the part of the season that every year wins the hearts of all the locals who call this place home.

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

Beauty abounds!

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Sightings today were: Orcas, Humpback whales, Dall’s porpoises, Harbour Seals, Great Blue Herons, Red -necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Black Oystercatchers, Belted Kingfishers and Bald Eagles.

There are two words that described our day of touring – Beauty Abounds.

Not only were we gifted by numerous sightings of a variety of wildlife, the weather made for comfortable conditions to be at sea, as we admired the abundance of wildlife that nature generously revealed.

In addition to the family groups we have been seeing over the last couple of days: the A30’s, A23’s/A25’s,I15’s and I31’s, there is the possibility of new pods having arrived  today and joining with the other orcas who had travelled far out into the Queen Charlotte Strait early in the morning. There were at least forty individuals who displayed both foraging and social behaviour, as they tail-slapped and rolled on the surface of the sea, interacting with each other as though they were literally having family time. The vocalizations heard via our hydrophone were superb!

We were stunned by the many blows we could see on the horizon, including the larger Humpback whale breath that can reach up to 3 meters high, all backed by rich blue skies and the forest green of our mountain ranges. The two Humpback whales we observed at a close range today, handsomely lifted their tail flukes high to the sky. The sea water that dripped from their fluke glistened like diamonds in the sun.

Our guests enjoyed the exploration of the islands and islets, as we hopped from one to another. Curious seal heads, camouflaged by the floating bull kelp, followed our boat as it drifted by, inquisitive like young pups.

Numerous birds foraged and flew, flapped and vocalized adding to the symphony of sound that echoed throughout this region, due to the stillness of the air.

Once our morning tour was complete, our guests stepped off the boat overwhelmed by all they had experienced and some even chose to join us on the afternoon tour. I think we will take that as a compliment. Thank you Mother Nature for once again providing us with such beauty, we are so honoured to share with our visitors.

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

Orcas, Humpback whales and so much more!

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

Our sightings today: Resident Orcas, Humpback whales, Dall’s porpoises, Harbour seals, a Black-tailed deer with her fawn, Bald Eagles, Belted Kingfishers, Black Oystercatcher, Cassin’s and Rhinoceros Auklets, Red-Necked Phalaropes, a Great Blue Heron and Gull species.

Having seen Orcas the previous day we are always curious as to where they ventured during the night and whether they would still be in the area the following day. Like all things in nature, the animals know how to utilize their environment in the best way possible as survival of their species is paramount.  Often we observe our resident orca traveling in the same direction as the current and turning soon after the current has turned. On this particular morning they entered Johnstone Strait via Weynton Passage at the end of the flood.

Our skipper, while crossing Weynton Passage scanned far ahead and thought he saw blows in the distance.  As he came closer, he confirmed his sightings of blows to be that of Orca and later it became clear that we had the same pods from yesterday. The I15’s and A30’s were all spread out and travelling steady in an easterly direction in Johnstone Strait. It is astonishing to watch these individuals surfacing to breathe at the exact same time as their other family members whom are traveling meters (and at times kilometers) apart, as though they are instinctively synchronized.

Later that morning as the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, a feeding frenzy of numerous birds that swarmed above the sea, caught our attention. This was an indication that there was a bait ball of small schooling fish below the surface, attracting birds and Humpbacks alike. We observed Humpback whales foraging close to shore amongst the picturesque islands and islets that were fringed with rocks and kelp forests and pleasantly littered with Harbour seals. Hundreds of Red-necked Phalaropes and numerous gulls continued to occupy the water this morning creating a lively symphony of sound from Mother Nature.

Every day we are blessed to experience such natural delights and how privileged we are to share it all with our visitors.

A wonderful viewing of Orcas, Humpback whales and more!

Our sightings today: Resident Orcas, four Humpback whales, Dall’s porpoises, Harbour seals and pups+++, two Stellar sea lions, Rhinoceros Auklets, Cassin’s Auklets, Red-necked Phalaropes, Bald Eagles, Belted Kingfishers, Western Grebe’s and Black Oyster Catchers.

Again today we had excellent viewing of Resident Orcas, they were the A30’s who travelled in through Weynton Passage and then headed east in Johnstone Strait. We also had sightings of four different Humpback whales! In a new Bald eagles nest that we discovered today we were thrilled to see a young Eaglet sitting high in the nest! The day was such a beautiful one and our cruise through the many island waterways on our way home was breathtaking!

An amazing encounter with Northern Resident Orcas and Humpback Whales!

 

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Our blog from September 29th, 2016

Our sightings: Northern Resident Orcas, Humpback Whales, Dall’s Porpoise, Steller Sea Lions, Harbour Seals, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Common Murres, Ancient Murrelets, Sooty Shearwaters, White-winged Scoters, Great Blue Herons, Belted Kingfishers and Gulls!

The afternoon tour was a fantastic surprise for everyone when an orca fin was sighted in the distance and so it was after hearing orca vocals via our hydrophone that we also got to see them. From their vocals (pinging sounds) we believe that it was G-Clan orcas, possibly I31s (the vocals that we heard) and our viewing was of some of the A34s who were spread out and foraging over a wide area.

Humpback Whales were also seen along with so much else and touring through the Plumper Islands was simply divine! It was an incredible afternoon, the weather was exquisite and the photo’s posted of the orcas show only a glimpse of what we all so enjoyed. Unbelievable and wondrous!

Photo credits: Hayley Shephard. Photo’s were cropped and taken with a telephoto lens.

Marine Mammal Extravaganza!

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Fern ~ Humpback Whale

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Our sightings: Northern Resident Orcas Galore! Humpback Whales, Dall’s Porpoises, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Steller Sea Lions, Harbour Seals, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Common Murres, and Gulls Galore!

Today’s tour has to be one of the best! There were Orcas everywhere and Humpback Whales also. To sit quietly with our engine off and drifting in the current, watching and listening with sights and sounds of Cetaceans in all corners wherever we looked, it was fantastic! The orcas that we identified were: I15’s, A30’s, A23s, A25s, G3s, G16s and possibly more Gs were in the mix! They were extremely vocal and as we sat listening, we could distinguish G and A-Clan calls.

There were 10 Humpback whales in our vicinity of viewing today, among them were White Eyes, Fern and Merge. How marvellous it was to appreciate each and all of the Cetaceans, big and small and to also enjoy the exquisite beauty that was always just a stone’s throw away!

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

Orcas and Humpback Whales ~ Amazing!

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Arctic Tern

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Guardian ~ Humpback Whale

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Our sightings: Northern Resident Orcas, Humpback Whales, Steller Sea Lions, a Mink, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Common Murres, a Common Loon, an Arctic Turn, an American Wigeon and Gulls.

It was an incredible tour that found us venturing out into the Queen Charlotte Strait looking for orcas who had been reported travelling west early in the morning. We caught up to the I15’s and identified I27+ new baby and I107 swimming together, they were being harassed by Pacific White-sided Dolphins and taking long dives. I77 who is the son of I27 was swimming with I128 who belongs to the I16 Matriline. Several more orcas were seen in the distance but as I128 was identified, it was likely the rest of the I16’s. We left the orcas who carried on travelling very slowly west.

There were many Humpback Whales in the area today. Guardian and the new whale Fern was identified but in total, there were about 15 HB’s in Blackfish Sound today! We observed some nice flukes and a breach far in the distance.

It was a fabulous day beginning first thing this morning when we saw a Mink running along the beach in Alder Bay and ending with some brilliant viewing of Stellar Sea Lions swimming nearby!

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