Relaxed viewing of 12 Humpback Whales, intrigue and excitement while viewing Bigg’s (Transient) Orcas!

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Our tour today was a truly awesome one that took the viewing of wildlife in our area to a level of great excitement and intrigue. We began our morning at the top end of Johnstone Strait viewing a large gathering of gulls feeding on a herring/ bait ball while a humpback whale blow was seen near Weynton Island. We lost track of that whale but saw two more feeding in Weynton Passage, one making its way towards Cormorant Channel and then there were two more whales including ‘Guardian’ feeding nearby us. As Guardian made her way towards the ebbing current flowing by Stubbs Island where hundreds of birds were feeding we started down Blackfish Sound where there were five more humpback whales feeding, all were spread out, from Bold Head down to Parsons Light. It was fabulous seeing them all, as well the sooty shearwater birds seen plunging into the water and flying across it in their unmistakable flight pattern, common murres were also actively feeding and some rhinoceros auklets as well while small flocks of red-necked phalaropes were seen in flight, skimming just inches above the water!

There were numerous stellar sea-lions, some hauled out but many more were seen swimming along the shorelines and when it was reported that three orca’s had been sighted travelling west in Johnstone Strait from the Boat Bay Light we headed towards Blackney Passage in perfect timing to see them, as well, there were two more humpback whales feeding in Blackney Passage! At the same time, we could see a small group of dall’s porpoises who arrived and were swimming at the bow of our boat briefly before speeding towards the bottom of Hanson Island in Johnstone Strait. The orcas had surfaced just once having taken a long dive, and then as the porpoises sped off, the orcas for a short while looked to be amongst some of them but the orcas then turned and headed back into Blackney Passage travelling alongside the shoreline of Little Hanson Island arriving at the point where we had earlier seen stellar sea-lions swimming in the water. One of the orcas lunged out of the water and we saw a sea-lion surface and quickly make its way towards the other sea-lions and shoreline. When the orcas surfaced again, we could see that they had joined together and were travelling/ resting in the ebbing current in Blackfish Sound, synchronized in their surfacing and diving sequence. We identified the orcas as the T46C’s and this was later confirmed by Jared (DFO). The Matriarch T046C (21 years) and her two off-spring T046C1 (9 years) & T046C2 (6 years) were in the area two days ago on September 15, 2015.

It was a day we all so enjoyed! It was exhilarating with so much marine and bird activity nearby to keep us fully engaged and in the moment! The scenery was beautiful where the cloud formations and colours on the water and in the sky were stunning! The kelp forests with a great blue heron rafted on and feeding, sparkled in the sunlight and the Coast Range Mountains across the waters of George Passage, although they were partially cloud-capped today, added much to the beauty we all so enjoyed!

*The photo’s today were taken by our iphone and show the scenic beauty and beautiful colours of the sky and sea but the orca and humpback whale photo’s are on our larger camera that we have been having trouble downloading!

Today’s penned comments: “Wonderful tour. Perfect, personal attention. You have to sail on today’s wind, the wind of yesterday is already gone. You don’t know if there is wind tomorrow, you have to sail on todays wind.” Martin & Gemma, Netherlands.

“Dave & Maureen, Thank you for an awesome day with a lot of memories! An International trip four sure! Gilakisla.”       Pearl & Mike, Alert Bay, BC

“Dave & Maureen, Thank you very much for this terrific experience!!! We had a great time onboard and we’ll definitely spread the word. Thank you very much! See you next time!” Frank & Astrid, Germany

“Thank you both once again for a wonderful day. Great weather, lots of whales and delicious muffins and scones. This is our second time we have taken this tour.” Helen & Rob, Coquitlam, BC

“Maureen & Dave, Thanks so much for a fantastic day with delicious food and great whale sightings!” P & P, Switzerland

“Thank you for the experience, it was our first time on a boat like this and we loved it! We saw everything we wanted: humpback whales, orcas, sea lions and porpoises! We even saw an otter! Wonderful day! ” Pauline & Cedric, France

An exciting day for Bigg’s (Transient) Orcas and Humpback Whales!

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As we were nearing Weynton Passage this morning we saw three small groups of pacific white-sided dolphins, two groups raced by very fast, the third group looked to have stopped to rest. What a day it was for Bigg’s (Transient Orcas), with various groups appearing throughout the tour. A small group of Transients were first reported off Blackney Passage and also near Little Kaikash Beach in Johnstone Strait but then they were sighted travelling quickly along the Swanson Island shoreline in Blackfish Sound! At the same time another group of Bigg’s (Transient Orcas), the T046C’s were sighted at the top end of Blackfish Sound and as we watched they slowly made their way against the ebbing current into Weynton Passage. The other group who were headed west began angling across the top end of Blackfish Sound towards Donegal Head, they were the T059’s and we enjoyed watching the interaction between the younger calves with some breaching, pectoral fin slapping and playful rolling. They were resting and stayed in the back-eddy off Donegal Head. We also saw two humpback whales near the Plumper Islands at the same time that the first group of orcas went through.

Leaving the orcas we headed towards Bold Head and seeing sooty shearwater birds circling in flight, it was incredible to see them literally falling from the sky and diving into the water en mass to feed as we neared Bold Head where a number of actively feeding humpback whales were. Our timing was perfect in seeing at least five humpback whales working the area along with the shearwaters, common murres and rhinoceros auklets, all diving birds, together feeding alongside the massive bodies of the whales! It was phenomenal watching as whale after whale surfaced and dived, at times, two in unison, all seemingly beautifully choreographed! Two of the whales we identified as being Conger and Domino. It was fascinating to watch blow after blow as the whales passed by near to us and at a distance, our watching in wonder, all of us mesmerized by the beauty of our surroundings and nature’s magic, flowing all around us.

Crossing Blackfish Sound, we passed through some island waterways, viewing stellar sea lions swimming in the water and hauled out, one sea-lion on its own was moving rapidly and we have to wonder if it had seen Transient’s coming its way as, a group entered Weynton Passage, around the corner from where we had seen the single sea-lion, just after we had passed through! We had seen just one male dorsal fin at a distance but it turns out they were the T069’s! They went by the stellar sea lions and carried on making their way in the direction of Cormorant Island, travelling behind us as we headed for home and passing right by Alert Bay a while later! It was a very exciting day for viewing both orca’s and humpback whales and other marine life in the area! Also seen: harbour seals, dall’s porpoise, bald eagles, white-winger scoters, red-necked phalaropes and gull species.

  • Please note, our photo’s of the orcas and humpback whales taken today we still cannot download from our camera. Photo’s by our iphone are mostly of scenery and our passengers, the orca photo’s are of poor quality and have not been included, a few humpback whale photo’s are shown here.

Today’s penned comments: “Many thanks for two amazing trips. Wonderful to be shown the whales by people who know them by name and we really enjoyed seeing the other wildlife too. Delicious food as well.” Penny & Peter, UK

“Thank you for a memorable adventure! Great company and informative talk. An unforgettable trip.” Kiran, Toronto

“An incredible experience – thank you. Wishing you the very best!” Rachel, Melbourne, Australia

“Another epic day aboard the Tuan. Thanks Dave and Maureen for the great memories – you’ve done Alert Bay and its wildlife proud.” Andy, Toronto

Bigg’s (Transient) Orcas and Humpback Whales in a glorious world of blue and green and sunshine!

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Sooty Shearwater Birds

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Slash ~ Humpback Whale

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What a wonderful day we shared in the sunshine surrounded by blue waters and sky, orcas and humpback whales! We could not believe our eyes when Biggs (Transient) Orcas, the T10’s surfaced suddenly near the boat as we headed towards Donegal Head on our tour this morning. We had been advised that three orcas were travelling north from Donegal Head and yet here they were in Cormorant Channel, surfacing beside us and suddenly! It was exciting to say the least, as the Matriarch T010 was identified along with her two sons, T010B (born in 1983) and T010C (born in 1999).

They were taking long dives and had separated when there was some splashing and suddenly T010C surfaced, followed by his brother and then we watched as their mother made her way towards them, we cannot be absolutely sure but we think they were onto a harbour seal and then after a long dive and a short time of rest on the surface of the water, they began to travel quickly to the west. It was at this point that we left them and made our way back towards the top end of Blackfish Sound near Weynton Passage where we observed ‘Guardian’ the humpback whale feeding in the ebbing current on the North side of Stubbs Island while another humpback whale was seen off the Plumper Islands and still more across at Bold Head.

We headed towards Bold Head and as we neared the area we could see hundreds+ sooty shearwater birds circling around and landing to rest and feed. It was wonderful seeing them again today in less choppy waters and while we were still able to sail today in the NW winds blowing, the water was far more settled than yesterday’s stronger NW winds. The humpback whale ‘Slash’ was working in the vicinity of Bold Head and we could see at least three more further east in Blackfish Sound, and one nearby feeding near to ‘Slash’ as well. In the presence of our blue surroundings, sparkling kelp forests and gorgeous rain forested islands we made our way homeward bound viewing harbour seals, stellar sea lions and bald eagles. Also seen: rhinoceros auklets, common murres, red-necked phalaropes, surf scoters and gull species.

** Still unable to download our daily photo’s from our 400 mm lens camera, today’s photo’s were taken by our iphone.

Today’s penned comments: “Great trips, great views of killer whales and humpback whales! A great experience overall! ” Dieter, Belgium

“Thanks for the trip, it was huge killer whales. Thank you.” Uli and Lucus, Germany

“Wonderful tour. So quiet, peaceful and imtimate with the whales and birds. Thanks to the great introduction to scones and tea as well. What a treat!” Shawn, Grand Forks, BC