Humpback whales, a Minke whale, Pacific White-sided dolphins and so much more!

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September 19th

Today’s Sightings:

Humpback whales, a Minke Whale, Dall’s porpoise, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Red Necked Phalaropes, Ancient Murrelets, Rhinoceros Auklets, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Heron and Common Murres.

A Minke whale and at least fifty Pacific White-sided dolphins was the opening act on our tour this morning. The dolphins were on a mission, passing our boat at full speed, perhaps in pursuit of a tasty school of fish.

The ocean currents were running at full speed, turning a tranquil sea into a raging river, churning food from the ocean floor and bringing it to the surface, providing nutrients for the eagerly awaiting birds.

The weather once again offered mirrored seas and a welcomed mix of sun and cloud which created the perfect setting for our guests to witness the beauty in their surroundings.  They marvelled at the clear water and enjoyed seeing through the emerald green looking glass at the wonders of kelp forests, schools of abundant fish and the intertidal wonders.

The Humpbacks stole the show again today and it was a privilege to watch them for over an hour. Our skipper described the waters as ‘Humpback Soup’ because blows could be seen from all around with over 30 Humpback whales in total. Skippers who have been operating in these waters for many years, remarked on how they have never seen so many Humpback whales. While engines were shut down and we drifted in silence, the whales carried on with their means for survival and feasted on the nutrients in the form of small schooling fish kindly offered by the sea. Trap and lunge feeding was observed and amongst the whales were some we recognised including Back Pearl, Freckles and Slash.

It was absolutely and utterly Magical out on tour today!

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

Beautiful Humpback whales and more!

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September 17th

Our Sightings:

Humpback whales, a Minke Whale, Dall’s Porpoise, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Black-tailed deer, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Heron, Cormorants and Common Murres.

We had four seasons in one day as we observed dramatic changes in weather from overcast conditions, pouring rain then brilliant sunshine with blue skies. The seas were glassy calm allowing us to see as far as our eyes could stretch out towards a horizon completely speckled with whale blows.

Today was the tour of the feasting Humpbacks as we witnessed the various feeding behaviours performed by our residents.  Everywhere we journeyed on our tour this afternoon we were in the presence of these wonderful creatures. It truly touches us, as we enter into their world by the means of an ocean going vessel, looking into their beautifully balanced eco-system that appears to sustain such a generous population.

As the signs of winter are steadily moving in, we can only imagine that the animals of this region are focused entirely on putting meat on their bones and for some, building winter stores. Thankfully the winters here at sea level, on Vancouver Island are fairly mild and even some food in the forest is available all winter long. Today as we cruised the smaller islands a Black-tailed deer eagerly nourished itself as it grazed at low tide and a brief encounter with a Minke whale and Dall’s porpoises gave an impression that all the different animals that call this place home live together in harmony.

We wonder if these animals looked into our world, the human race, if we to give off the same impression. Time spent in nature does create contemplation.

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

Magnificent beauty gifted by Mother Nature!

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September 16th

Our Sightings:

Humpback whales, Orcas (A23’s/A25’s), a Minke whale, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Dalls porpoises, Black-tailed deer, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Heron, Cormorants and Common Murres.

Today we had a tour where the wildlife literally came to us. Having departed Alder Bay in glorious sunshine, blue skies and calm seas, we headed in an easterly direction and soon switched off our engines to drift in welcomed silence. It is hard for many people these days to actually switch off their gadgets and be surrounded by the purity of nature with few distractions. Patience certainly pays off when it comes to wildlife viewing. It was the synchronized breaths we heard first before seeing the dorsal fin of an Orca slice cleanly and effortlessly through the calm ocean.

A pod of orcas, somewhat spread out passed us by, giving our guests the glorious thrill of seeing whales in the wild.  At one stage we recognised the smaller cetacean, realising that dolphins had joined the party. Together Orcas and Pacific White-sided dolphins slowed down and milled about our boat.  After spending a few more magical moments with these black and white beauties, we noticed that they were showing signs of settling in for an afternoon nap. How mesmerizing it was to see the co-operative and beautiful resting line formed by this family of resident Orca.

We moved on to find our beloved Humpbacks, and caught them in the midst of feasting, the one thing they do best, particularly at this time of year. Trap feeding and lunge feeding was observed as vulnerable bait balls drifted in and out of the massive jaws of our larger whale specie.

We continued to show our guests the best this place has to offer which included not only seals, birds and sea lions, but the smaller critters under the sea. The water was so clear we were able to point out the sea stars and urchins and follow with our eyes the stipes of bull kelp as they descended deeply in to the sea.

A Minke whale briefly showed itself as we were heading for home, giving our tour a ten out of ten for having seen such a variety of species, all in the space of a couple of hours. Thank you Mother Nature for revealing your treasures, we are truly grateful.

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

Another amazing day of marine mammal viewing!

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September 15th

Today’s Sightings:

Humpback whales, Orcas, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Harbour porpoise, Pacific White-sided dolphins, Black-tailed deer, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Cassin’s Auklets, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers, Black Oystercatchers, Blue Herons and Common Murres.

Our backyard was a medley of activity and wonderful sightings of resident and transient animals that utilize the rich and abundant nutrients provided by the sea.

On a calm and sunny afternoon we meandered amongst the islands, through scenic passageways where the trees stood like guardians on either side of where we cruised. Bald Eagles kept their eyes upon us as we cruised by and Kingfishers swooped along the shore line, vocalizing to their mate that was only a few wing beats away.

The Sea Lions now dominate some areas of coastline as they have taken occupancy and are well moved in for the winter. Their grunts and groans will now be the constant companion for those who live remotely and nearby, away from the hustle and bustle of town.

During the afternoon, many Humpback whales friskily foraged, lunging within bait balls and filtering out the trapped water through their baleen plates. These curious sights of Humpback jaws, limbs and fins are such a delight for our visiting passengers to observe and attempt to photograph.

We had an unexpected visit by a resident pod of Orcas we don’t often encounter in these parts; the B’s. They were accompanied by the A34’s who travelled in the same vicinity. We know that as we move into the second half of September and particularly into October, the sightings of Orca will be less frequent. We are making the most of these magical moments because it will come a time when our resident Orcas will move on. July is a long time to wait for these magnificent animals to return.

How blessed and grateful we are to witness such rich delights and have the perfect weather to keep us warm, dry and comfortable.

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

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.

Wickedly wet with wonderful Orcas, Humpback whales and more!

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Today’s Sightings:

Orcas, Humpback whales, Pacific White-sided dolphins, River otters, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros and Cassins Auklets, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers, Pigeon Guillemots and Common Murres.

During our tour today, grey skies merged with grey seas and heavy rain fell, all omens of seasonal change. Even though spirits were dampened by the unfavourable conditions, it was all part of the adventure in the Pacific Northwest. We are in a Northern rainforest after all.

It didn’t take long for our seasoned skipper to find the whales everyone was eagerly searching for, the beautiful resident killer whales. Two pods were foraging in a nearby cove and against the backdrop of grey, their black and white colourations appeared sharp and stunning. Our guests were soon smiling and the rain suddenly had little significance.

With the rain in the air and clouds as a canvas, it was difficult to make out the blows of the Humpback whales. Instead we searched for a break against the ocean horizon as whales rose up towards the surface, their backs arched and flukes graciously lifting up and scooping water along the way.

Today we were guided by dolphins as we crossed to the other side of a major strait. A family of River Otters entertained our guests right at the dock at one of our pick up points, and the rain turned into liquid sunshine as the sun’s rays momentarily appeared from behind the clouds.

It was another fabulous day exploring the waters of Northern Vancouver Island.

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

A marvellous congregation of species!

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September 6th

Our Sightings:

Orcas, Humpback whales, Pacific White-sided dolphins, a Minke whale, Dall’s porpoises, Black bears, Stellar sea lions, Harbour seals, Bald Eagles, Sandpipers, Rhinoceros Auklets, Gull species, Belted Kingfishers and Common Murres.

It was an action-packed day for Seasmoke Whale Watching as three tours went out and oodles of wildlife was seen on all tours. In fact we think we saw almost every possible creature that is possible to see in this region. The only one missing was Sasquatch!

We had a feeling it was going to be a fabulous day of touring because just after leaving the dock we had a wonderful viewing of a Black Bear. Later in the day we had another incredible encounter, this time it was with a Black Bear mum and cub. They were foraging on the beach as the tide was generously low, turning over rocks and eating the meaty crustaceans that hid beneath them. Even though we had turned our engines off to drift in silence, they knew we were there. Still the bears carried on about their way showing no signs of fear or threat, just how we like it. We watched for a short while then continued on our way, in search of other nature delights to show our guests.

The conditions were picture perfect with flat calm seas and zero wind. The visibility was clear despite the smoky haze that gave the scene a sepia appearance. The Orcas were not far from Alder Bay, when we set off on our morning tour. The A23’s and A25’s were traveling in the Strait and when crossing over from one side of the Strait to the other, we caught a glimpse of a small group of Pacific White-sided dolphins which splashed before us. As the dolphins dashed forward they left behind a trail wake which, due to the beautiful texture and colour of the sea, made it look like a ribbon of glass.

The Humpbacks were incredibly active particularly in the afternoon. Numerous breaches were seen from near and far as these acrobats used their tail fluke to bring their entire 35 ton body out of the water. They were feasting and schools of small fish were consumed by bubble net feeding Humpbacks. Their wide open jaws rose up from the ocean giving us a spectacular view of the baleen plates that hung from their upper jaw.

Orcas were also seen breaching today which is not a common event. This is a spectacular sight to see when the entire black and white muscled body completely leaves the water. One guest was extremely lucky to photograph the full breach while others managed to catch part of the breach.
There was wonderful viewing of birds today especially the Common Murre which also has stunning colourations similar to the Orca. Bald Eagles were perched in trees high and low near the water’s edge. Stellar sea lion males were handsomely hauled out on their rocky kingdoms, their thick manes giving them appearance of a lion. The list of incredible encounters from today goes on and on. It was truly outstanding to be out on the water today!

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