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!
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.
It was a moody day on the water as the air was still, lingering fog clung to the ocean surface and wispy clouds drifted amongst the trees. Rain threatened for most of the morning and finally down-poured towards the end of the tour.
The rain did not bother our hardy guests because we were too distracted by our wildlife extravaganza! Only minutes out of Alder Bay we saw a 3 meter whale blow lift high and upwards to the sky. A humpback whale was cruising at quite a speed westbound towards Cormorant Island. We stayed with it for some time as it was heading in the direction we wanted to go. A number of times it dove deep so we could see the unique markings on the underside of the fluke.
Shortly after, we received a call over the radio announcing a group of 17 or so Orca travelling mid strait towards the west. At first the whale watching community thought they were a resident pod but after photo’s were taken and a closer look was had, they were identified as Bigg’s (Transient) Orca’s.
They travelled at a great speed, staying close together in a tight group, all surfacing to take a breath at the same time. A new calf was visible as it porpoised out of the water, while doing its best to keep up with the adults. It was a grand sight to see, these magnificent creatures rising to the surface to take a breath, their black and white colouration stunning looking against a grey back drop.
Once back alongside the dock, our guests disembarked the boat, wearing grins as wide as the pacific. What a fabulous morning on the water for all of us!
It seemed as though the sun came out just for us on our tour today and what a stunner of day it was!
The sea was like a mirror once the strong ebb current slowed during our morning of drifting with the current.
Guardian and Ojo’s Blanco’s, our resident humpback whales, were working hard foraging in large circles in the area just off Stubbs Island. Since we have been seeing them daily, their flukes are becoming very familiar, Guardian with her broad white underside and Ojos Blancos being mostly black.
A highlight during our tour today was the rare sighting of a sea otter! Sea otters are usually seen further north and out on the west coast but every now and again we spot one this far down the Inside Passage which is quite a treat for us locals. This little critter lay on its back in amongst the bull kelp with its furry head and prominent whiskers sticking above the surface of the water. All around this individual were numerous harbour seals lazily lounging on the near by rocks.
Bald Eagles were numerous as well today and we counted at least six on one small islet, some perched in the lower branches of cedar trees while others stood as large features on the ground. Everything looked so stunning under the clear blue sky while we drifted on a calm blue ocean!
Our tour this morning was jam-packed with exciting wildlife encounters and extraordinary behaviour from one of the five Humpbacks we observed.
It all started before leaving Alder Bay when the resident family of River Otters decided to share some family fun on the dock only meters away from us. They tossed and tumbled over each other creating an otter bundle, ignoring us as we silently observed and took photo’s.
Once underway, we were struck by the numerous pairs of Bald Eagles sitting on the ground along the shores of the Pearse Islands. Their delicate calls echoed out towards where we drifted. Other interesting bird sightings consisted of a single Hummingbird that flew at an impressive speed right across our bow when we were at least a mile offshore. As well there was the first sighting of a raft of Red-necked Phalaropes that daintily tapped at the water creating only the slightest of a ripple.
Harbour seals in great numbers sat high on the rocks as low tide approached and numerous Dall’s porpoises surfaced above the glassy calm sea. At one stage we enjoyed watching them bow ride another vessel, then they came to join ours when the other boat slowed down. They like a certain speed when wanting to draft alongside a vessel.
We thoroughly enjoyed watching our local humpback whale Guardian forage in the strong ebb current, her distinct fluke rising high to the sky when about to deep dive.
Our highlight today was the numerous times Humpless’s (also known as Slash) calf breached+++, spyhopped and slapped the ocean surface with its pectoral fin. Again and again we could see various limbs appear from the water then leaving behind a mass of white water as it landed. Side by side they swam, mother and calf, a bond you so rarely see but know so dearly that it is always a privilege to witness.
Wearing wide grins, we ventured home, under a blue sky bright with sunshine!
It is such a neat experience for our guests to not only enjoy the wildlife we have in this area but to really get a good look at, and to start to understand the unique dynamics of the water in this region.
We began our tour at low tide so the intertidal zone along the shoreline was a prominent feature. The rockweed was abundant, sticking way up above the water line and we could hear and see Oyster Catchers foraging on the crustaceans that were tucked inside this seaweed.
Following low tide was slack water, when the current had slowed and became stationary for a short time. During slack water we were able to position the boat amongst islands and islets, turn the engines off and be still to witness the richness of nature that surrounded us.
It was interesting to observe the whales at the change of the tide and current. We noticed the Humpback whales were foraging along a tide line for the hours we were with them. Ripple, Ojo’s Blanco’s and Guardian were the whales of the day and their pattern of 5 shallow surfaces, 1 deep dive for a duration of four minutes were consistent particularly when the current had turned to flood.
As the flood tide gathered speed and surface of the water livened, so did the speed in which the whales foraged. Whirlpools and eddies gave the water a dynamic appearance and we could feel it shift the boat ever so gently as we drifted amongst it.
On our way home we used the current to our advantage, which surged us forward through narrow passes and channels, enjoying the harbour seals who were doing exactly the same.
A splendid day, under a mix of sun and cloud, on a smooth and lovely sea.
What a beautiful part of the world we live in on the edge of the rainforest!
It was four seasons in one day out on the water today. Sunshine, warm temperatures then rain and a nip in the air made for an exciting adventure on board our M.V. ‘Seasmoke’ but the unpredictable weather did not deter the wildlife. We hadn’t even left Alder Bay and a family of River otters came out for all our passengers to see. We were grateful for their trust as they lingered on the dock even when we stood only meters away.
Once underway we appreciated the calm seas and the slack current enabling us to shut down our engines and drift silently by seals snoozing at low tide and our resident Bald Eagles resting alongside their nests.
Dall’s porpoise surfaced in the distance, Rhinoceros Auklets floated by in small rafts and Pigeon Guillemots flew by in flock formation, all the while we slowly ventured closer to where whale blows had been sighted.
Two travelling Humpbacks kept us company for over an hour this morning. Their blows could be heard from a good distance as the air was still and silent. As the whales dove deep, we were able to see the underside of the fluke which gave away the individuals we were observing. Our forever faithful Guardian was one, along with Ojo Blanco (White Eye).
By the time we parted the area and headed home, the flood current was fast and furious, stirring up the sea like a running river. The rain fell heavy at times but we were all wrapped up warm and dry in our float suits.
Another fabulous day sharing in the company of friendly folks and the gentle giants who delight us with their company throughout our glorious summer.