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.

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.

Mirrored waters with breathtaking beauty!

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September 5th

Our Sightings:

Orcas (A30’s, A23’s/A25’s), Humpback whales, Harbour seals, Dall’s porpoises, Stellar sea lions, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Gull species, Rhinoceros Auklets and Common Murres.

Today was an absolute stunner. There was warmth to this early fall day where the blue sky stretched as far as the mainland mountains to the East and out towards open ocean to the west. The sea was literally smoother than glass which offered breathtaking reflections particularly where Orcas were involved.

The local pods we encountered today were westbound and traveling. They glided effortlessly, their dorsal fins slicing though the water like a hot knife in butter. Seeing them gracefully swim on the calmest of seas, the sun’s rays caressing their skin so delicately, created a black dorsal fin reflection that glittered and sparkled. Family members traveled side by side, mimicking a choreographed ballet performance as they surfaced in a subtly staggered line and in sync, creating the perfect picture.

Blows of Humpbacks remained suspended in midair, taking forever to dissolve due to the stillness of the air. Mirrored seas make Humpbacks seem even bigger, perhaps caused by being able to see their entire body through the transparent water if one happened to pass by close. Sunlit flukes that rose up from the sea looked like spotlights in the distance, and if we were in earshot of the blows  it seemed as though their volume doubled.

Two tours went out today and all faces came back smiling.

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

Abundant and breathtaking beauty in our surroundings!

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Today’s Sightings:

Orcas (I15’s, A23’s/A25’s) Humpback whales, Dall’s porpoises, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, River otters, Bald Eagles, American Crows, Great Blue Herons, Gull species, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres and River Otters.

Sunshine on our shoulders made us happy during our tour today. Infact every mountain, tree and animal were lit up like lanterns as the sun’s rays touched on all living things. This made for breathtaking scenery in all directions.

The Sea Lions looked so shiny and vibrant, the Orcas shimmering black was like a knight in shining armour and the kelp glistening like hundreds of diamonds in the sea.

Heading out in the afternoon on days where the forecast looks promising, allows the warmth from the sun to burn off any lingering fog. That is exactly what happened today. Although there were occasional wisps of fog in the region, most of it had burnt off by noon.

September is the feasting month when the oceans are at their richest. Strong currents and large tides are stirring up large quantities of microorganisms which are fed upon by small schooling fish. These fish are then eaten by the salmon which are then eaten by the Orca, along with so many other animals including Seals, Sea Lions, Eagles and Bears. The food chain is intricately connected with each link just as important as the other. The salmon are the keystone specie in this region.

As we head out each day sharing our backyard with visitors from all over the world, it is important for us to inform our passengers about the environmental concerns of this region. As well we like to offer the best experience onboard Seasmoke, so they can take home not only memories but stories and information they can pass on to friends and family. This way we all become ambassadors, caring for a region that houses some of the most beautiful and majestic animals that exist on planet earth that we are so privileged to encounter.

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

Beautiful shades of blue and white, Dolphins and Humpback whales!

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Today’s Sightings:

Orcas (A25’s/ A23’s), Humpback whales, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Harbour seals, Stellar sea lions, Dall’s porpoises, Gull species, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Common Murres and Belted Kingfishers.

It was another hide and seek tour today as fog drifted in and out, at times limiting our ability to only a few hundred meters. Although it is challenging finding whales in fog, it can be even trickier keeping them in our sights. In this misty grey environment Orcas appear to stand out even more so against the grey backdrop and since fog acts as some kind of sound barrier, their blows sound even louder.

Shutting down the engine and drifting in silence is often the best way to experience the whales in these kind of conditions. Hearing them release their breath in sync with other family members is truly a moving experience.

Another marine mammal which fog brings out the best is the dolphins that spend the spring and fall months in this region. They to have beautiful colourations that are emphasized by the fog. At least 30 dolphins porpoised their way towards us and joining them was a single male orca with a large nearly 6 foot dorsal fin. The shenanigans we observe between dolphin and orca are entertaining, despite the annoyance expressed by our resident killer whales.

There was an abundance of food in the area, given away by the hoards of birds that energetically and rowdily fed on the numerous bait balls that had formed. Breaching Humpbacks were seen from a distance and many jaws were seen appearing from the depths of the sea catching our attention, as they trap and lunge fed.

Our tour ended with sunshine. Like an unveiling, the cloth of fog was removed from the coastal mountains and stunning peaks were now jutting up towards the blue sky. The sun warmed us and the experiences of the day stirred our souls.

Seasmoke Whale Watching photo’s have been taken by Dave Jones using 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.