Fabulous sightings of Whales and Dolphins blanketed by fog!

September 2nd

Our sightings:

Orcas, Humpback whales, Pacific White-sided dolphin, Harbour seals, Stellar sea lions, a Mink, Great Blue Herons, Rhinoceros Auklets, Gull species, Common Murres and Bald Eagles.

We observed some neat behaviour today as we watched different species converse while traveling and foraging in the same vicinity. It does at times feel as though we are an audience watching a pantomime performance.

Orcas, Humpback whales and Dolphins were grouped closely together, in fact at times it seemed too close. Inukshuk displayed displeasure by trumpeting loudly to push off the pesky dolphins which seemed to be darting back and forth towards the Humpbacks head. When that didn’t work, Inukshuk tried another tactic by tail lobbing. This is when the whale uses its powerful fluke to slap powerfully down on the surface of the water. It literally lets off a loud, cracking thunderous sound that actually did the trick. We have watched Dolphins buzz around Orcas heads, quite similar to a bird dive bombing at an innocent person passing by.
We had fog today and it lingered. At this time of year this heavy marine layer sticks around unless there is wind to disperse it or sun to burn it off. We had neither today and so the soft greyness of sea and sky melted, one within the other.

Orcas (I15’s and I31’s) were making their way back East from the West today. Their black dorsal fins appeared larger in these grey toned conditions and their snow-white eye patch glowed bright like a lantern.

Harbour seals were camouflaged in the low light, their speckled grey, brown bodies blending in with the granite grey rocks in which they lay relatively still. A mink caught our eye as it vigorously swam passed our boat, heading for shore. Once it reached land, we were able to see its entire body scramble up on to the rocky beach and continue along.

September is the month that makes us locals fall in love with this area all over again. Although we had heavy downfalls of rain at times, it does not take away from the fabulous beauty this area has to offer in all its damp and grey glory.

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

Magic and beauty in every moment of the tour!

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September 1st

Today’s Sightings:

Orcas (A30’s, A23’s/A25’s), Humpback whales, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Stellar sea lions, Black bear, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Gull species, Rhinoceros Auklets and Common Murres.

On the occasional whale watching tour, particularly when the tide is low and nutrient rich beaches have doubled in size, we get to see one of Canada’s animal icons, the Black Bear. They are resourceful animals following the seasons which provide them with a varied diet. They use their long, strong claws and paws to move beach boulders and feast on the juicy crustaceans freshly exposed. A Black bear was the first animal we saw on our tour this afternoon and our guests were delighted.

The seas were smooth and the sky generously blanketed in cloud. It wasn’t long before we came across our frequent resident Orca, which happened to be the same pods as yesterday. They were doing their foraging and traveling rounds, and after some time, settled down to rest. They lined up like soldiers, and graciously marched side by side in an Easterly direction. At times we could see the spontaneous splash of a dolphin surfacing nearby as though they were joining the orcas for their afternoon nap.

We passed a rock, newly speckled with Stellar sea lions, staking their claim on their piece of basalt. We can no longer keep count of the Humpback whales we see as every corner we turned, blows filled the horizon and several flukes could be viewed at the same moment. We had a special visit by a juvenile Humpback, perhaps 2 to 3 year old. Numerous bait balls were formed all around, so whales were seen lunge feeding, including Inukshuk and Monster amidst the gathering of birds.

September is a special time of year to be out on the water in Northern BC. On this first day of fall, it lived up to its stunning reputation.

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

A beautiful blue day watching Humpback whales, Orcas and more!

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August 29th

Today’s sightings:

Orcas (A30’s, A23’s/25’s, I15’s, I31’s) Humpback whales, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoises, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Gull species and Belted Kingfishers.

The weather showed us all its moods as we ventured in all directions due to the varied and dynamic wildlife we viewed today. On the west side of Hanson Island the SE winds had ruffled the seas and on the east side the ocean was like a mirror.  It was so calm and clear that we were able to see distinctly, a salmon swimming urgently past our boat with a whale literally on its tail. How stunning the Orcas are with their black and white colouration saturated by the ocean, therefore glistening in the sun’s gentle rays.

The mountains were glorious today in their many layers, each one mildly coloured in soft pastels and standing out with the blue sky backdrop. Everything shimmered in the sunshine. Harbour seals poised high on barnacle covered rocks glistened and streamlined Stellar Sea Lions gracefully cruised past us, their tanned bodies also glowing in the afternoon sun. The bulbs from bull kelp, suspended on the ocean surface sparkled like diamonds, sun-kissed by the ever present sun.

Every creature great and small was eating today. Humpback whales were lunge feeding and tail lobbing, and amongst them was a large gathering of numerous birds as they also made use of the bait ball of small schooling fish. Orcas, Dolphins and Porpoises were hunting in the same area and kept us observers on our toes as we attempted to identify the different species that all seemed lumped together.

It was another magical day of viewing where once again we were spoiled by the generous gifts from Mother Nature as she revealed her most valued treasures and the SE winds surprised us all with the warmth that came from further south!

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

We began with small creatures of the sea, Dall’s porpoises and ended with large Humpback whales!

 

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Today’s Sightings: Orcas (A30’s, I15’s, I31’s), Humpback whales, Dall’s porpoises, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Common Murre’s, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Pigeon Gullimots, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons and Black Oystercatchers.

We had two tours today and with the sun shining and relatively calm conditions it made for a fabulous day on the water.

We began our morning tour starting with the small creatures of the sea and ending with the large Humpback whales. Dall’s porpoises hitched a ride on our bow as we journeyed East. Their torpedo shaped bodies and distinct patterns of black and white looked stunning through the crystal clear water.

The next marine mammal encounter was with the large and graceful acrobat, the Stellar Sea Lion. Its mustard toned body porpoised through the water giving off an impression that swimming is a fun novelty. We saw Humpback whales foraging around a group of small islands, utilizing the currents to round up their prey.

The orcas on our morning tour were seen just outside of the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve. They were using the momentum from the ebbing current to assist them as they headed west. They were gathered together in their family group, lined up side by side. Slowly but steadily the Orcas journeyed west while we watched in awe at how effortlessly and gracefully they moved through the element of sea and current.

On our afternoon tour we encountered the orcas in Blackney Passage, their vocals were eerie but beautiful and their mysterious conversations filled the afternoon air. The Humpback whales were numerous and we watched as one tail-lobbed a number of times and the crack of thunder caused by the forceful slap, sent shivers up our spine.

Another day has passed, leading us towards the end of August. We are already starting to see the tiniest hint of fall as migrating birds fill the skies and their calls fill our ears.

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

Rip tide and whales!

 

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August 23rd

Our sightings: Orca, Humpback whales, Dall’s porpoise, Harbour seal, Bald Eagles, Common Murres, Rhinoceros and Cassins Auklets, Kingfishers, Black Oystercatchers, Black Turnstones and Gull species.

Our passengers eagerly boarded MV Seasmoke from the picturesque village of Alert Bay. They smiled with excitement, curious as to what they were going to experience on this three hour tour. After a thirty minute transit on flat calm seas, Orcas were sighted. The pod was identified as the loyal A30’s. Like yesterday, the tide was racing through the narrow channel of Blackney Passage, and with it, unseen and below the surface, was salmon which the Orcas were on the hunt for. Once meal time was over the Orcas charmingly came together and began their journey to the East.

Our skipper navigated through a tight channel where with outstretched arms you could just about feel the shore on either side of the boat. The limbs of cedar trees generously hung low over the water and just above like coastal keepers, perched Bald Eagles. Nearby large, now vacant nests sat precariously on branches and the sounds of foraging Kingfishers resonated from the forest.

We continued north into more open water and watched at least six foraging Humpback whales. The water gracefully rushed like a waterfall from the tops of their flukes as they descended on a deep dive. Closer to home now, our tour nearly over, we came across three Humpbacks travelling together side by side. It was as though they were one unit as they surfaced, released their breath and sunk below the sea all in the same fluid motion.

It was a fabulous afternoon spent with curious and interested people from all over the world, wanting to experience the treasures of this precious archipelago.

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

Orcas, Humpback whales, Dolphins and Porpoises feeding in the swirling current!

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August 22nd

Our sightings: Orca, Humpback whales, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoises, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Common Murres, Rhinoceros and Cassins Auklets, Kingfishers, Black Oystercatchers, Black Turnstones, Red-necked Phalaropes and Gull species.

It felt like an afternoon matinee out on the water today. The first half was spent enjoying a ballet performance as dolphins, Orca (A30’s) and porpoises danced amongst each other in the strong flood tide that ran quickly through the narrow entrance of Blackney Passage, Humpback whales were also in the mix!  All species were working the tide, hunting for fish that also utilized the tide for its own purpose.

The second half was spent out in the wide open top end of Blackfish Sound as Humpback whales put on an acrobatic display. Multiple flukes could be seen from all directions and one whale tail slapped numerous times then completed its performance by doing a full blown breach. Another whale brought its wide open jaw up to the surface and began to trap feed. Before the curtain closed the final act was a lunge, as a Humpback forcefully launched its upper body in a forward motion to snap at a school of fish darting near the ocean’s surface.

This recital all took place under an overcast sky, among the threads of Seasmoke that wisped through the lower sky like Northern Lights. A show is not complete until an encore is delivered and it was the sun that took the final bow. As we journeyed home amongst the islands the sun appeared from behind the many clouds and offered us stunning light that saturated the beautiful stage of mountains, islands, forest and sea.

Photo’s taken by Dave Jones have been cropped and taken with a telephoto lens.

Bubble net feeding Humpback whales, Orcas and so much more!

 

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August 20th

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

It was a day of feasting bubble-net feeding Humpbacks. The overcast but calm weather provided excellent whale viewing conditions. Blows were seen from miles away and when a whale’s limb appeared above the surface, whether it was a tail, head or pectoral fin, it too could be easily seen from a fair distance away.

Bubble net feeding is a technique that has only in recent years been observed in these waters. In early summer, only one whale was seen using this technique and now we are witnessing an additional whale. Lucky and Moonstar are our bubble-net feeding masters and they are a delight to watch.

Having observed Lucky using this method throughout the summer, it seems as though this whale has refined it’s feeding technique. The circular bubble nets created, seems tighter and smaller with an additional circle created in the centre. Perhaps this is helping concentrate the bait-ball of fish even more. Lunging through the centre of this circle of bubbles is energetically athletic. On tour today we witnessed a Stellar sea lion feasting in the same net of bubbles, it made for some extraordinary viewing!

Throughout the day our guests did not know which way to turn their heads as numerous Humpback blows were seen in all directions. Some whales were foraging on their own while a few pairs were seen travelling together. Orcas showed up in the latter part of the day so we indulged in some fantastic viewing of these black and white beauties.

Seasmoke Whale Watching photo’s have been taken by Dave Jones using a telephoto lens and have been cropped. The Bald Eagle and photo’s of guests onboard were taken by Robin Quirk and have been cropped as well.