Humpback whales ~ bubble-net feeding observed once more!

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Today’s Sightings: Humpback whales, Dall’s Porpoises, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Heron, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Black Oystercatchers and Gull species.

Our tour today departed in the afternoon, allowing time for most of the morning fog to dissipate. Feeling the emphasized heat from the blazing sun is somewhat unusual in this region, because typically a sea-breeze is present which welcomingly keeps our temperature comfortable. Vancouver Island is experiencing a heat wave therefore conditions are warmer than usual. Temperature plays a crucial role for salmon who are trying to head up rivers to lay their eggs. Spawning conditions need to be perfect and it is the combination of abnormally warm temperatures, very little rain and shallower streams that are effecting the success of the salmon. Not only do they need to lay their eggs, but they are required to get up the river in order to do so. They need deep enough water and the water needs to be at a certain temperature. And so the delicate balance of this eco-system continues to be challenged.

It was the Humpback whales that fascinated us throughout our tour today. One whale named ‘Lucky’ has adopted and perfected a feeding technique unlike the usual feeding behaviour we observe here – bubble net feeding. How extremely fascinating to know that Humpbacks learn and adopt feeding techniques, behaviour and even songs from other whales. The technical term is ‘learned behaviour’. Spiraling up towards the ocean surface, Lucky released bubbles, trapping bait fish within this newly formed bubble cylinder. A deep dive followed, as the whale descended downwards to place itself at the bottom of the tube ready to retrieve its catch. Now as it ascends upwards towards the surface once more, the whale opens its huge gaping jaw, the throat pleats spreading wide collecting the entire tube of fish along the way. This is truly dynamite and impressive to watch.

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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What a way to spend a day ~ seeing Orcas, Humpback Whales and so much more!

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Sightings: Northern Resident Orcas – A42’s, A23’s, A25’s, Humpback Whales, Dall’s porpoises, harbour seals,  Steller sea lions, Bald Eagles, a Hybrid porpoise, Belted Kingfishers, Red-Necked Phalaropes, Pigeon Guillemots, California Gulls, Black Oystercatchers, Rhinoceros Auklets and a Mink.

The day was a beautiful one for being out on the water and on both of our tours we enjoyed some incredible viewing of both Humpback Whales and Orcas as well as a myriad of other wildlife.

On our morning tour we encountered Northern Resident Orcas – the A5s (A23s, A25s and A42s) and four Humpback Whales. When A61 passed nearby we were all in awe of his sheer size and magnificence and watched as he foraged back and forth around us. We also observed some resting behaviour by the orcas when they formed a resting line and slowly made their way back to the east. We watched in amazement the speed of some Red-necked phalaropes as they raced on by us as we made our way back home!

On the afternoon tour we found ourselves once again in the company of the A5 orcas, the Matrilines A25s, A23s and A42s. We were delighted to see a breaching orca calf followed by it porpoising!  There were two humpback whales in the area, one was identified as Freckles. One of the highlights of the afternoon was the sighting of a hybrid porpoise observed amongst some bow riding Dall’s porpoises and then we sighted a mink running along the shoreline in a quiet passage en-route for home.

It truly was a remarkable day seeing so much on both of our tours and so close to home!

 

 

A beautiful morning where our senses peaked while listening for blows in the fog!

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Our sightings today: Humpback Whales, Dall’s Porpoises, a Stellar Sea Lion, Harbour Seals, Bald Eagles and an Eaglet in the nest, Red-Necked Phalaropes, Belted Kingfishers and Gull Species.

We woke up to zero/zero visibility, it was a foggy morning!  Because there was a really low tide we could explore the intertidal zone (the area that is above water at low tide and under water at high tide). We saw sea cucumbers, star fish (sea stars) sea urchins, numerous barnacles, seaweeds including bull kelp forests and we had a good look at one sea cucumber that the children so enjoyed seeing! In a beautiful scenic passage we could hear the ‘screeching’ calls of bald eagles and even some calls from a varied thrush onshore.

Sitting in the fog we waited for the sound of a humpback whale blow and heard smaller softer blows, wondering if they might be porpoises approaching. Sure enough they were Dall’s Porpoises that we could see on the edge of the fog. Suddenly we could hear and then see the 10ft blow of a Humpback Whale that we identified as Guardian by her tail fluke and dorsal fin. She has been coming into our local waters each summer since 2011.

As we waited for another sighting we heard a different kind of blow, more of a ‘snorting’ sound. It was a Stellar Sea-lion that surfaced with a fish, thrashing it around and then in one gulp, the fish was swallowed. What a morning! It was a really special experience as we listened (by watching) with our ears!

Another day of beautiful humpback whales accompanied by pacific white-sided dolphins ~

Our day started off cloudy and misty when we left the dock but as we ventured further, those initial thoughts we left behind us as we entered into an abundant and mystical marine world. Our guests were from BC, USA, Germany and Italy, it was a great crowd!

We made our way slowly through some favourite island waterways viewing belted kingfishers, bald eagles and harbour seals. All three species are a treat to see and never disappoint. The parents of a bald eaglet were on site near their nest, along with their precious eaglet that was perched high in its nest.

It was down in Johnstone Strait that we encountered two humpback whales feeding in the current accompanied by several pacific white-sided dolphins who were leaping all around the whales; the dolphins were also feeding in the surging current. The current, flooding as it was at the time that we were witness to its mighty force, made for some interesting viewing for our guests who were utterly amazed at the feeding frenzy of so many species taking place nearby.

We watched, all of us entranced by the beauty in our surroundings as the fog and mist began to lift in the Blackney Passage area and then we started back towards home, spotting some Dall’s Porpoises along the way.

It was a great day, filled with smiles by all!

Today’s Sightings:
Humpback Whales, Dall’s Porpoise, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Bald Eagles, an Eaglet in the nest, Harbour Seals, Black Turn Stones, Rhinoceros Auklets, Red-Necked Phalaropes, Black Oyster Catchers, Wandering Tattler, Belted Kingfishers and Gull species.

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WOW ~ wonderfully outstanding whales ~ humpbacks!

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We headed out this morning and took our time meandering through scenic waterways of the Pearse Islands viewing belted kingfishers and bald eagles along the way. We also explored the amazing array of intertidal marine-life, all of it was fascinating to view and the colours were mixed and beautiful to observe at such close range!

In Weynton Passage we scanned for blows in the area and our patience was rewarded when we sighted a Humpback Whale in the middle of the Pass! The whale was moving back and forth in the strong flooding current.

In a large Bald Eagles nest nearby we could all clearly see an Eaglet with its two parents sitting close by. It was amazing to watch one of the adults returning to the nest with a fish that we had observed it catching only moments earlier!

In Blackfish Sound we looked for more blows and could see two more humpback whales down near Blackney Passage. The wind and the current swirled the water around fiercely while the humpback whales foraged in the midst of the current.

Just prior to leaving the area we noticed a few tail lobs from one of the humpback whales. Counting a total of eight tail lobs we observed that both of the whales were tail lobbing. It was an  incredible viewing, made even more phenomenal because of the wind conditions and surging current!

We headed back home towards sunshine and a brilliant blue sky. WOW describes it all!

Today’s Sightings:
Humpback whales, Belted Kingfishers, Bald Eagles, their nests and an Eaglet in a nest, Harbour Seals,
Rhinoceros Auklets, Red-Necked Phalaropes, Black Oystercatchers, Wandering Tattler, Gulls,
Intertidal marine-life including Sea Urchins.

The wonderment of it all on the edge of the rainforest!

There was no sign that the drizzle would clear as we set off on our tour this morning and although it never did, some passengers remarked how their trip would have not been quite as good without witnessing all that we did amidst the wet air with gentle clouds hovering over the rainforest in the background. Our first sightings included a harbour seal mom nursing her brand new pup followed by a single bow-riding porpoise. After 30 years of tours this porpoise may be the first hybrid we have ever seen. It was the result of mating between a harbour porpoise and a Dall’s porpoise and had features of both species but didn’t look exactly like either. After this, we found a total of 4 different humpback whales, including Ridge, a whale we have been seeing in the area for the last 10 years. Prior to heading in we were treated to a fantastic show of several bald eagles fishing on a school of herring. All in all it was a unique, beautiful and fantastic trip and we all stayed dry under the brand new floater suits that we provide.

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