stellar sea-lion with salmon
The North Island is experiencing beautiful weather just now and so again this morning, the sun was shining and the day warm, even before we left the dock. Approaching Weynton Passage and the Passage itself is always of interest with bird species to look for, harbour seals and also humpback whales and so it was this morning with the sighting of harbour seals swimming amongst kelp forests and
Looking down Blackfish Sound
hauled out on exposed rocky outcrops but because of the flooding current and high tide, most of them were in the water. Black oyster catchers were also seen on an island and a pair in flight, their cries high-pitched were easily recognized. A humpback whale was also sighted in the near vicinity, it was taking long dives of 12 minute intervals, this particular whale, Black Pearl, has been in the region frequently this summer. We carried on our way, scanning far out into the Queen Charlotte Strait where the scenery was spectacular with the Coast Range Mountains forming a
beautiful backdrop to the flat calm blue waters of the Strait. We stopped to observe a stellar sea-lion with a salmon in its mouth feeding, another was seen lying on the surface of the water resting and then a humpback whale was sighted heading in the direction of Donegal Head before turning back. Again taking long dives, we believe this whale to be Black Pearl but it was also possible to be different whale. Another humpback blow was seen down near the entrance to White Beach Pass while two more were reported in Blackney Passage and it was down near White Beach Pass that we all enjoyed a wonderful humpback whale encounter. The scenic waterways we cruised through on the way home made exceptional viewing with the sun shining on the abundant kelp forests that spread far across some narrow passageways making the viewing even more pristine and magical. Dalls porpoises, bald eagles, rhinoceros and cassins aucklets and rednecked phalaropes were also seen.
Minke whale: eclipse
Smiles all round!
It constantly amazes us, each day so different from any other, our tours have been remarkable with so much action especially when viewing humpback whales, the images fill our minds and fully awaken our
Humpback Whale: Black Pearl
senses! Leaving the dock this morning a stiff SE wind was blowing with strong gusts at times and we departed from Alder Bay with our staysail up; it was a grey day and the whitecaps were whipped up all across and down Johnstone Strait. We entered calm waters through Pearse Passage and Weynton Passage and as we neared the Plumper Islands, a dorsal fin was suddenly spotted surfacing through the water that we could in the next moment see that it was a minke whale. Passengers on board enjoyed some wonderful viewing of the whale, nearby at times when it resurfaced after a dive, enabling us to clearly see the elongated head when it surfaced and from our photo’s it was later identified by Christie as being ‘Eclipse’, one of the resident minke whales that returns to feed in the area each summer. We carried on our way towards Blackfish Sound and scanning up and down the Sound, there were no sightings of any cetaceans when suddenly a blow followed by the typical disappearing back of a humpback whale was sighted near Bold Head. It was several minutes before a blow was seen again and while we made our way in that direction, the sea state had picked up and some wind gusts were felt. A blow could be seen well off in the distance out towards the Foster Islands in the Queen Charlotte Strait and then finally after several more minutes the fluke of a humpback whale was seen some 250-300 hundred meters off our starboard side, disappearing. Meanwhile a large blow was seen, the whale heading further west but more towards Malcolm Island, a second humpback whale for sure or possibly a third? We turned our attention to the whale off our starboard side and enjoyed viewing its dive sequence which throughout our viewing time, with everyone counting the blows it was taking 12 breathes between dives, one count 13 breathes with dives of mostly 6 minutes, one dive sequence of 5 minutes. As it happened yesterday, to the astonishment of us all, we watched as the whale suddenly began making its way towards our boat, getting closer with each surfacing and suddenly it passed in front crossing our bow with amazing speed, the viewing was superb and the images clearly imprinted in all of our minds. This whale was the same humpback whale as we had go by the bow of the boat yesterday and was identified again thanks to Christie as being ‘Black Pearl’. Throughout our viewing time in Black Sound, with the wind blowing we had our staysail up and the ride was comfortable and exhilarating. Our return home was via the Plumper and Pearse Islands where passengers enjoyed their Devonshire Tea’s. Other species sighted today were dall’s porpoises, harbour seals and increasing numbers of rhinoceros auklets.