Another beautiful day of viewing humpback whales ~

We had a beautiful day of touring and our sightings included four humpback whales (Guardian was one we identified) dall’s porpoises, harbour seals, a stellar sea-lion, harlequin ducks, black oyster catchers, bald eagles, rhinoceros auklets and common murres. Cruising leisurely through the islands our passengers enjoyed being amongst the calm, quiet and pristine waterways.

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Seeing beauty everywhere and Humpback Whales too!

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Today was our last tour and what a lovely day it was to end our season on! It was an incredible gift where everyone onboard felt a great sense of gratitude, peace and beauty for it was all around us, everywhere we looked today! The humpback whales did not disappoint us and even while we made our way towards two of them feeding on a bait ball early on in our tour, we could see three more in the distance working the area near Weynton Island with some trap feeding by one of the whales that ended before we arrived!

How amazing it was to watch the movement of so many humpback whales circling around and around and to listen to the pattering of webbed feet of vast numbers of sooty shearwaters as they made their way across the water to feed several metres or so away, often not even taking to their wings in flight but walking along the top of the water in a pattering fashion! We observed, time and again when gulls began feeding on top of a herring / bait ball,  the sooty’s would immediately arrive, some by pattering their way there and others by flying and plunging into the water around them, causing the gulls to take flight for they were vastly out numbered by the shearwaters, and even the common murres were out numbered as well! We have never before seen the shearwaters linger so long in the area and feed so intensively on the herring as they have been doing. In previous years they have flown in to rest and feed briefly before flying off to remote islands in the South Pacific Ocean and they were usually seen off Bold Head and the top end of Blackfish Sound whereas this year they are everywhere, including Johnstone Strait.

Sitting out on deck watching the humpback whales circling around and around, two of them together at times, the pinky blue colours of the sky reflected on the water, the rocky outcrops and nearby chain of the Plumper Island waterway’s, the Coast Range Mountains with their peaks obscured today by clouds, all of it was magnificent!  Acoustically, with the calling cries of the murres, gulls and red-necked phalaropes, the humpback whale exhalations, pattering sound of the shearwaters and stellar sea lions roaring in the background, one could not help but feel a sense of stillness and absolute peacefulness where nothing else mattered at all!

Some heartfelt moments that occurred today: four dall’s porpoises went by our boat as we sat drifting with our engine off, there was a mother and her calf among them, they passed by us so quietly, it was a beautiful viewing to see them so close and so unaffected by our presence. Yet another small sparrow species visited us briefly today, sitting upon the hand of one of our guests as she held onto the top of our cockpit roof, it rested momentarily before flying off, that was a very rare and special moment in time!

This place on earth is precious and priceless and ‘giving in abundance’ at all times. How wonderful to see it in its glory today on our final tour of the season and how fortunate we are to live in such a world ‘seeing beauty everywhere’!

Also seen: harbour seals, stellar sea lions, belted kingfishers, great blue herons, harlequin ducks, pelagic cormorants and gull species.

** There were many humpback whales out there today including Guardian, there was one whale that we have never seen before with distinct white markings across its body and the underside of its tail was also white. We are wanting to download our photo’s from the last 7-10 days and hope to have one of this whale to forward for identification to Jackie and Christie as soon as we can. The photo’s posted today were taken by our iphone.

Todays penned comments: “The sun was shinning, sea calm and what a morning! Fantastic trip with humpbacks all around, so much enthusiasm and knowledge.” Angela, London, UK

“A beautiful day with some beautiful whales. Enjoyed the porpoise, the sea lions, seals and sooty’s too!” Gary, Guernsey

Humpback Whales circling around to feed and phenomenal bird activity!

IMG_1233 IMG_1229 IMG_1228 IMG_1216 IMG_1214 IMG_1210 IMG_1204 IMG_1201 IMG_1196 IMG_1190 IMG_1178It was a day of ever-changing weather conditions that began with rain and heavy cloud cover turning to gusting NW winds followed by more rain. There were clearing patches in the sky with no rain and dull grey waters turning unbelievably, to a sky of streaky blues and pinks and finally sunshine that felt warming and wonderful upon us as we made our way home on calm blue waters under a beautiful blue sky!

In the beginning, in Weynton Passage we counted some five humpback whales, three who were working alongside one another, surfacing and diving simultaneously, all the while brown clouds of sooty shearwaters circled around and as we watched they plunged into the ocean alongside common murres, a small number of rhinoceros auklets and the humpback whales! It was fantastic to see them in this manner, a feeding frenzy that lasted until the whales began to disperse when their food source had been devoured and they began to spread out over a wide area in Weynton Passage and beyond where blow after blow and disappearing fluke could be seen, for there were several more whales sighted covering a wide area, even back at the Stephensen Islands one was seen when we were heading home!

At one moment in a lull that followed the gusting wind and rain, a small sparrow, we think it was a Savannah Sparrow, in the brief moment that we had to view it but not photograph, it landed on a stay on our boat to rest before flying towards Weynton Island. It was a magical moment glimpsed today among so many others, with a beautiful light spreading across the water and the snowcapped Coast Range Mountains with a glacier peeping suddenly through the clouds and where black oystercatchers and pelagic cormorants were glimpsed sitting on a rocky outcrop!

The tranquil island waterways of the Plumper Islands did not disappoint us for they were vibrant and beautiful today. Migrating bird species flying high and ribbons of migrating Canada Geese passing overhead as we made our way back to Alert Bay was a wonderful finale to our day and while the weather was wild early on in our tour, it gave to us so much more. Beauty that was beyond belief at times, it was definitely, ‘nature’s magic’ at its best!

Also seen: red-necked phalaropes, harbour seals, stellar sea lions, bald eagles, great blue herons, belted kingfishers and gull species.

** The iphone was not quick enough for the humpback whales today, with their tail lobbing and distant breaching, not even our 400 mm lens/camera (of which we are still awaiting a part for) was quick enough for that!

Today’s penned comments: ‘Great trip! Their love and enthusiasm for the whales is contagious!” Sande & Mike, Florida

“Excellent excursion. Very informative. Scones delicious. Many thanks.” Jan & Ken, Orkney Islands, Scotland

“Dave & Maureen, Thank you for a great experience on your sailing ship. A first for us. It was great to see the whales in their natural environment. Best wishes” Eileen, Brian & Caroline, UK

And the rain it fell today with Humpback Whales circling all around ~ it was fantastic!

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How wonderful was our day despite the rain that was falling on and off throughout the tour for there were humpback whales everywhere! Three of them were sighted early on in our tour, one was in Cormorant Channel and the other two were in Weynton Passage, one of them was Guardian, the other Domino! We watched as Guardian and Domino made their way in waters on the south side of the Plumper Islands where a number of diving birds and gulls had gathered. Guardian made her way alongside a kelp forest close into the shoreline and it was fascinating to watch her loll about in the kelp, rising up with kelp draped across her back, she indeed looked like the shoreline and well camouflaged at that!

Cruising through a waterway of the Plumper Islands and out into Blackfish Sound we could see at least five more humpback whales who were working the area, some moving away and some moving towards us as they circled around. It was absolutely beautiful watching all the birds together with the whales feeding alongside one another. The sooty shearwaters were flying about and plunging feet first into the water amongst the common murres and rhinoceros auklets, all of them feeding from below the water on the herring that when panicked, gathered together for safety forming bait balls. The whales would soon arrive and feed while gulls hovered above, waiting for the small fish to be pushed up to the surface (by the feeding birds from below) for them to snatch at and feed upon!

The very habit of our watching the whales and birds was mesmerizing and one was scarcely aware of the falling rain. The lighting was at times surreal, as a soft golden glow upon the water it fell, accentuating the magnificent beauty of the area, captivating all of us and leaving us feeling very much alive and grateful. As the world grows ‘more madder’ by the day, moments like those shared on board the S.V Tuan today, gave to all of us ‘some peace of mind’ and memories for our guests to revisit time and again whenever they need!

Also seen: dall’s porpoises, harbour seals, stellar sea lions, red-necked phalaropes, great blue herons, bald eagles, pelagic cormorants, ribbons of birds migrating south (species unidentified) and gull species.

**We have still to download photo’s from our camera, but today, our iphoto’s will suffice as after-all,’ it was and is’ the feeling that matters most and today, it was sheer bliss for all of us!

Today’s penned comments: “Thank you for the beautiful tour. We saw lots of humpbacks – just lovely.”  Andrea & Yolanda, Switzerland.

“FAN-TAS-TIC!” Sijin & Simone, Belgium

“What a great way to spend a rainy Saturday morning! More than just a tour, thanks!” Carl & Sonja, Belgium

We had a wonderful sail with Orcas ~ Bigg’s (Transient) & Residents ~ as the wind and waves carried us along, we sailed quietly with them!

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The waves on which we sailed today.

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What a day in which to sail and sail we did with orcas, Bigg’s (Transients) and Residents! Heading out through Weynton Passage this morning a humpback whale was sighted briefly in the waves and shortly after a large splash from a breaching humpback whale was seen a distance away as it headed towards Donegal Head. Orcas were suddenly reported swimming towards Bold Head but with the ebbing current and NW winds blowing strongly today, the orcas slowly made their way angling towards the Plumper Islands amid the wind and cresting waves. Lunging through the waves, we would often see their tails when they dived, their energy was apparent and it was truly awesome watching them moving together in a tight group, a mother and her calf were sometimes seen separated from the others a short distance. Taking long dives we would wait for the orcas to surface again and again, at times we were near to them and other times a distance away. With the wind and the waves we sailed along, tacking back and forth with our mainsail reefed, trailing our hydrophone while sailing, we did not hear any calls for they were silent. The Transient Orcas were identified by Jared Towers (DFO) as the T046C’s: the Matriarch T046C and her two calves: T046C1 & T046C2 and the T059’s: T059 and her daughter T059A, with her two calves: T059A1 & T059A2.

More orcas were reported travelling in from Bold Head a while later and they were Resident Orcas the I15’s! How wonderful it was to see them travelling altogether, moving through Blackfish Sound amid the choppy waters off Bold Head. Their appearance was magnificent and regal as a large group of orcas who are so used to being in the company of each other.

Today, with the NW winds came the Sooty Shearwaters, flying in brown clouds and making an impressive viewing! Until today, there has been no sign of the birds who we have come to expect over the years to arrive around the beginning of September. These birds are on a long migratory flight to breed on small islands in the South Pacific Ocean, mainly around New Zealand, in the Auckland Islands and Phillip Island off Norfolk Island. It is one of the largest migratory routes of any bird species in the world. Recent tagging experiments have shown that birds breeding in New Zealand may travel 74,000 km in a year, reaching Japan, Alaska and California, averaging more than 500 km per day. It is always a treat to see them and today they arrived ‘with clouds’ of them flying all around and landing, to rest and feed before taking flight once again on their long migratory journey across the Pacific Ocean!

It was a wonderful day of sailing and viewing numerous marine species, we are so blessed to live in such a diverse wonderland of marine mammals, sea birds and breathtaking beautiful scenery!

Also seen: harbour seals, stellar sea lions, bald eagles, common murres, rhinoceros auklets, red-necked phalaropes, great blue herons and gull species.

**We are still unable to download our photo’s, these few posted are from our iphone.

Today’s penned comments: “I came here to hopefully see whales and orcas. I did here.The trip was amazing. Lots of wildlife – lots of views. The crew is amazing! Thanks for everything. Also loved the food and drinks! Nice touch. I would do it again for sure! Cheers “~ Margot, Belgium

“Amazing tour, beautiful scenery, lots of wildlife. Glad we came.” Marilyn & Stephen, Ontario

“We had a great trip! Saw lots of wildlife. Seeing the orca’s was really amazing. You’ve been very kind and gave us some lovely food. Thank you.” Kim & Yordie, The Netherlands

“We enjoyed our trip with Maureen & Dave so much yesterday, we did another trip with them today!! We saw lot’s of orca’s today and other wildlife. ” Jill & Kim, Qualicum Beach, BC

“Thanks for the fantastic experience!” Sue & Siggi

Visually beautiful Humpback Whale Watching and Orcas as well!

IMG_0281 IMG_0284 IMG_0297 IMG_0306 IMG_0312 IMG_0320 IMG_0336 IMG_0378 IMG_0383 IMG_0384 IMG_0385 IMG_0446 IMG_0447 IMG_0452 IMG_0453Today has to be one of the loveliest days of the season, with the fog already cleared when we headed out this morning into blue waters, blue sky and sunshine. It was a lazy day feeling, and cruising out into Cormorant Channel we could see numerous Humpback Whale blows near and far and it was magnificent looking out towards Stubbs Island and the BC Coastal Range beyond. Alone on the water with no boat traffic near it was a privilege to simply be, to sit on deck and observe, absorb and reflect on the immense beauty and significance of this precious place on earth where so many marine and bird species congregate annually, especially in the summer and fall months. The sounds on the water today was that of many species, of Common Murres, the adult male parents calling back and forth to their young, Humpback Whales, their blows and trumpeting sounds punctuating the still morning air, gulls in a feeding frenzy feeding on herring and the background chatter of Stellar Sea Lions was never far away. So much beauty to gaze at in all directions and the Humpback Whales surfacing near and far was remarkable without a breath of wind to stir the water. Gulls were observed hovering over herring balls where Murres and Rhinoceros Auklets were active and one herring ball caught our eye where the small silver fish could be seen literally dancing on the surface of the water with gulls flying into and out of it while Common Murres were seen diving in from below. We remained drifting in the current nearby with our engine off photographing the gulls and herring when a Humpback Whale was seen a distance away and in seconds it emerged directly in the middle of the herring, unbelievably close, it was incredible and awesome!  We caught up to the Orcas, some of the I15’s (I27’s++) as they made their way west along the Hanson Island shoreline, the rest of the I15’s were directly opposite on the Vancouver Island shoreline. As we watched they continued on past Turn Point making their way towards Weynton Passage on the ebbing current. The weather was exceptional and the Cetacean viewing today phenomenal! Also seen: Stellar Sea Lions, Harbour Seals, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Bald Eagles, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, Great Blue Herons, Red-necked Phalaropes, Bald Eagles, Pelagic Cormorants, Herring, Mew and Glaucous-winged Gulls.