A beautiful day with numerous sightings ~orcas, humpback whales, black bears, a minke whale, dolphins and porpoises!

What a beautiful day with so many sightings! Our tour today took us in the direction of the Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve where orcas were reported nearby and they were on the verge of entering when we headed out this morning. En route in Johnstone Strait we had some surprise sightings beginning with the sighting of a black bear on a beach on Vancouver Island and a second one a few kilometres further east. We passed dall’s porpoises feeding nearby as well a small group of pacific white-sided dolphins who were also fully focussed on feeding. As we neared the eastern boundary of the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve, a minke whale passed us travelling to the west and it was a wonderful surprise seeing this whale so far east in Johnstone Strait! Looking towards the Reserve, we could see a group of orcas nearing Critical Point, close to the shoreline while many more orcas who had been in a large resting line, looked to be heading out of the Reserve angling west in the direction of Cracroft Point!

And so it was that we were able to view the A30’s, A5’s, A42’s and A4’s who travelled close along the Cracroft Island side of Johnstone Strait. The A30’s were in the lead with A38 out in the front and foraging, the A5’s and A4’s were travelling in tight groups just behind them while the A42’s trailed a short distance behind; all were headed towards Cracroft Point. With our hydrophone deployed at one point we could hear distant G-Clan calls, those of the I15’s and G27’s who had carried on to the east in the Reserve. We observed when A38 angled back to the east foraging briefly, and then he angled outwards towards our boat, passing alongside and then crossing further out towards mid strait, at that point we again deployed our hydrophone with our engine off and heard some wonderful A-Clan vocalizations, which were fabulous to listen to. In Blackney Passage, we observed a humpback whale feeding in wide circles in the passage, we could also see the blows of two more humpback whales near Parsons Bay. Johnstone Strait today provided us with an amazing array of species in a relatively small area which was truly remarkable!

Today’s penned comments: “Had an awesome day, many orcas, two bears, humpback and delicious scones and tea. Thanks for this nice and amazing trip.” Bertha, Thomas & Ben, Germany

“Thanks for the great tour. Well done. A real treat for a couple of Prairie flat landers like us.” Phil & Suzanne, Saskatoon, SK

” Thanks for an amazing trip yet again!My fondest childhood memories are of trips on your sailboat watching orcas. It is bittersweet to be out here for the last few times, but I always have a great time.”Keaghan (Heidi’s & Bobby’s daughter).

“Thanks for a fabulous trip”

“I had an amazing time watching orcas and humpback whales! I also loved seeing the bears on shore. You guys are a charismatic duo and clearly love what you do. Thanks for teaching us about the orca families and the ways that orcas are protected from harm. One of a kind experience.” Katelyn, Portland

“Thank you for a beautiful experience!” Simone & Michel, Winnipeg,

‘A wonderful trip with two bears, dall’s porpoise, white-sided dolphins, A-30 Orca family, humpback whale feeding and best of all, Maureen’s scones.” Heidi, Bobby & Clan. Portland.

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In the company of awesome Humpback Whales!

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There’s no better way to experience the NE Coast of Vancouver Island than to venture into the foggy mist that can often linger in the summertime on the calm and quiet waters on which we travel. Making our way through the Stephenson Islands, Harbour Seals, were hauled out among the islands and were a beautiful sight to see and for some, to photograph! Carrying on our way towards Blackfish Sound, we spotted many groups of birds resting on the water and a group of Steller’s Sea Lions who were cruising along the shores of the Plumper Islands. We quietly drifted along, listening to the vigorous exhalations of the Sea Lions. As we neared Flower Island, we observed, hundreds if not thousands of birds, Gulls of several species, Common Murres and Rhinoceros Auklets all grouped together and feeding. Moments later, we were listening to the blows of Humpback Whales and out of the fog, we watched in awe, suddenly finding ourselves surrounded by Humpback Whales, and it was wonderful! The whales continually fed as gulls and the diving birds formed bait balls, it was incredible viewing and kept us fully focussed on their intense feeding behaviour. We finished the trip with scenic views of the islets flourishing with lichen covered Hemlock trees while enjoying freshly baked scones and tea.

Also seen: Dall’s Porpoise, Pigeon Guillemots, Black Oystercatchers, Black Turnstones, Harlequin Ducks (males) & Bald Eagles.

Today’s penned comments: “Beautiful misty coastal day. Wonderful to see the humpback whales. Thank you for your hospitality.” Barbara & Henry, BC

“It was a magical experience being out on the ocean in the fog and seeing the humpback whales was definitely a highlight. Very hospitable hosts and a lovely tea!” Tanya and Rob

“Thank you for your hospitality and for scones and muffins. C’est magnifique’! It a wonderful day to see whales in the fog. Scones and muffins are so good! Very good day for us. Merci beaucoup! “Anne, Philipe, Clare, Patrick, France

“Awesome. Great hospitality and an enjoyable ride. The Devonshire cream was a nice touch.” Traci Steves, Penticton, BC

“Thank you for a lovely tour!” Greg and Connie, Burnaby, BC

“Thank you David and Nicole for sharing this beautiful experience with us! I can’t find the words to express what this does to me, it’s overwhelming. And the Devonshire scones I will try to make it. Thanks a lot!” Bon, Holland

A myriad of species actively feeding ~ the viewing was superb!

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The weather today turned from a cool morning with a grey sky and sea to a beautiful sunny afternoon. Our first sighting of humpback whales began on the south side of the Plumper Islands where there were two of them, they were feeding alongside a countless number of rhinoceros auklets and common murres. Two more humpback whales and a group of stellar sea lions where sighted near the bottom of Blackfish Sound, where we observed them intensively lunge feeding surrounded by large flocks of red-necked phalaropes. It was fantastic viewing to say the least and we were all made so aware of their immense size and sheer beauty. Cruising back through the islands our other sightings included: bald eagles, male harlequin ducks, dall’s porpoise, harbour seals, gull species and a great blue heron.

Today’s penned comments:

“Thank you we loved it! Wonderful, friendly service. More “locals” should experience the wonder of our whales and rugged coastlines.” Summer and Andy Crosson, Victoria, BC

“Like this flour, food is delicious. No orcas so far but some whales that was pretty cool. Kids liked it too.” Peter, Hans, Kylian and Cas, The Netherlands

“Third trip for Amy, 1st time for Tom. Had a great! Love seeing the humpback whales! Never seen them before. Thanks.” Tom & Amy Kells, Ontario

“Our second trip with the Tuan was not less exciting as the first trip 2 days ago. Again without orcas but with seals, sea lions, eagles and humpback whales and, of course, with muffins and scones. Thank you very much again! Christoph & Anna, Germany

“What a delightful morning! Thank you for a wonderful trip and being able to see a lot of humpback whales. The naturalist was very knowledgeable and was a great plus. The muffins, biscuits and jelly and tea were a great extra. We will definitely recommend this cruise to our friends. Disappointed in not seeing orcas but that is how it goes sometimes. Thanks for a great trip. ” Rex and Nancy Fockler, AZ

“Amazing trip as always! Wonderful company, commentary, food and drink. Orca’s, humpbacks, seals, sea lions and eagles galore. Lunging humpbacks were a delight! Thanks for everything, look forward to coming back next year! Lots of love, Aussie Michelle

A wonderful day of viewing orcas (A11’s), dolphins, dalls porpoise, humpback whales, stellar sea lions and seabirds galore!

IMG_6022 IMG_5974 IMG_5958 IMG_5964 IMG_6034 IMG_5960 IMG_5938 IMG_5915 IMG_5893 IMG_5883 IMG_5879 IMG_5858 IMG_5810 IMG_5796 IMG_5778 IMG_5773 IMG_5755 IMG_5752It was a fantastic day with so many cetacean sightings! It was incredible, we began our tour with an early sighting of orcas, the A11’s who were spread out at the top end of Blackfish Sound. Simultaneously at that first sighting, we also observed a black-tailed deer grazing up on an island close to where a small group of the A11’s (A35, A90 and A77) were passing close to one of the Plumper Islands. We watched as the A11’s in their small matriline groups slowly made their way east against the ebbing current, A35, A90 and A77 turned back briefly to forage and then carried on. We watched as all of the A11’s made their way crossing over towards the Hanson Island shoreline which they hugged, while resting, all the way into Blackney Passage and then, in the same fashion began making their way into Johnstone Strait, still travelling close along the Hanson Island shoreline but now headed to the west!

But there was so much else going on, pacific white-sided dolphins were feeding and interacting with the orcas and the orcas were taking long dives in their presence! The dolphins joined us briefly at the bow of our boat and later a small group of dall’s porpoise did the same. It was fabulous for our passengers to see them at close range and to see the difference between the two species. Hundreds of gulls, common murres and rhinoceros auklets++ had gathered, all feeding on herring (their scales were seen floating by as well we could see a dense mass of herring was just under the surface of the water), we had also seen three humpback whales in the near vicinity. On our way to view one of the humpback whales, we saw two stellar sea lions, one was feeding on salmon and we watched as it devoured several salmon in moments, as gulls hovered too close for comfort to its gaping mouth! Our timing with the humpback whale was brilliant and we so enjoyed some superb viewing of it! What a day, we headed home in the company of the A11’s as they too travelled to the west and then we parted company. The colour of the sky and water was breathtaking, brilliant and blue, it was so beautiful to see!

Today’s penned comments: “We had a great trip! We saw lots of dolphins, orcas and birds. We even saw a sea lion and humpback whale. The muffins and scones were delicious and you were lovely!  Thank you so much!” love, Monique and Annick, the Netherlands.

Again a great trip from our friend Lo. Thanks for giving us a great day out on the water! Michel, Ellen & Jesse, Netherlands

“Thank you very much for that lovely trip. Seeing so many different species we never expected plus the superb service on board made it an extraordinary experience. Barbara, Kristin, Isabelle and Lewie, Germany

What a fantastic trip! So much wildlife on the water. Knowledgeable guides made the trip interesting and added to our amazement of the marine life. Great job! Candice, Allan, Adriana and Dylan, BC

** Please note, many of the photo’s posted have been cropped to enable better visual viewing.

A beautiful day in the company of gentle giants and other marine species including a Sea Otter!

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The Resident Orcas were far off to the east and west today however, we had wonderful company and viewings aboard the S.V. Tuan. We saw several humpbacks including individuals: Ripple, Guardian, and KC. Some that we observed were foraging in the tidal currents, fully focussed they were engaged in feeding! KC we viewed in the very scenic area out from the White Cliff Islands where the view-scape and back drop showing the Coast Range Mountains today with several photo’s of one of KC’s dive sequence is quite spectacular! The gorgeous hues of the colour blue of the sky and water is accentuated a little more by the contrast of white shown on KC’s fluke. There were Stellar Sea Lions swimming along with us as well as Dall’s Porpoises and hauled out Harbour Seals (mothers and their pups) on the rocks as we travelled via some scenic island waterways. It was very exciting to catch sight of and view at a distance a Sea Otter, this is possibly the same otter that has been in the vicinity for several weeks now and appears to be doing well.

There were also a lot of surface feeding activity with Rhinoceros Auklets, Gull species and Common Murres all were feeding in the tidal current while other bird species seen today included Bald Eagles, Black Turnstones, Black Oystercatchers, Red-necked Phalaropes and Harlequin Ducks.

Today’s penned comments:

“Amazing tour! Thank you, any day at sea is better than the best day on land. Great sights, great hosts! Thank you” Roanna, Victoria BC

“Beautiful sight-seeing. Loved seeing the whales and sea lions. Best tea & scones we have ever had. Will be telling all our friends and family about this tour, thank you for the excellent hosts!”
Jazaray and Jason, Phoenix, AZ

“Had a great time, would do it all again, wonderful to see the humpback whales” Donna & Mike, Airdrire, Alberta

A beautiful day of viewing Cetaceans- Humpback Whales and Orcas ~ the A24’s!

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We headed back to the Plumper Islands and had a great view of birds feeing at the surface and a couple of humpbacks: Conger and Argonaut. Their backs shone in the early afternoon light as we enjoyed our Devonshire Teas and made our way back home.

On the afternoon tour we enjoyed some exquisite and intimate viewing of a humpback whale who we observed feeding up close beside a reef and rocky outcrop, the viewing was exceptional in the gorgeous lighting. We cruised through the island waterways viewing a humpback whale out in Blackfish Sound along with dall’s porpoise, hauled out harbour seals (mothers and their pups) and stellar sea lions. The lighting was beautiful with a blue sea and sky and the sparkling kelp forests added a glorious contrast to the brilliant green’s of the ‘ island forests.’ Birds today included: belted kingfishers, a great blue heron, red-necked phalaropes+++, black turnstones, black oystercatchers, gull species, pelagic cormorants, common murres, rhinoceros auklets and bald eagles.

Today’s penned comments:”Many thanks for showing us the beauty of the whales.” Kai et al. Germany

“What a wonderful day on board of Seasmoke. We really enjoyed it! We’d love to come back.” Germany

“Foggy in the beginning, sunny in the end, thanks for the spectacular views, the great food, and the perfect photo spots. Whales are fantastic creatures!” Beat, Stephanie, Michael, Caroline (Dieseldorf/Bülach, Switzerland)

“People may come to look for sea mammals and other wildlife. On a sailing boat, with the sun high in the sky, the spectacular landscape itself actually is enough. Seals, sea lions, eagles, porpoise and a feeding humpback whale are nothing short of a bonus!” Rob Siemerink and Family, Netherlands

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A fantastic day with so much going on ~Humpback Whales, Orcas, Dolphins, Porpoise and swimming Bald Eagles……..!

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Today was an incredibly interesting day with so much to see beginning with sightings of bald eagles, pigeon guillemots, black oystercatchers, black turnstones, gull species ++(glaucous-winged, mew and herring) and hauled out harbour seals and then 100’s of gulls massed together (with common murres and rhinoceros auklets), sitting on the water, while 100’s more were flying in circles, as were bald eagles, all of them gathered where herring had also gathered in the flooding current passing through Weynton Passage into Johnstone Strait.

We initially sighted a humpback whale fluking in the distance at the top end of Blackfish Sound and travelled on further east to where more humpback whales were seen, all of them focussed on feeding in specific areas in Blackfish Sound. It was difficult to keep count of them and their movements in the flooding current; there were at least five that we saw, Guardian, Ripple and Conger were among them! A stellar sea lion was actively fishing in their midst as were pacific-white-sided dolphins and dalls porpoise, it kept us all busy looking from one side of the boat at the sea lion and to the other side to watch the dolphins and porpoise and humpbacks, three humpbacks were seemingly following one another at one point!

A bald eagle was sighted near Little Hanson Island, it was in the water swimming towards the shoreline and we were intent watching it from a distance, all of us were relieved when it hauled itself ashore with a large salmon and dragged it up onto the rocks, just ahead of a cruise ship navigating its way through Blackney Passage and several humpback whales! It seems that two other bald eagles were in the water and swimming with a salmon in their grasp around the same time that we were watching our eagle! Meanwhile a black-tailed deer was seen grazing up on the shoreline…it was busy out there today!

After the cruise ship had passed we enjoyed watching Conger, realizing the whale was trap feeding (a variation of trap feeding where the whale opens its mouth and closes it after small fish/herring has swam inside its mouth, different from lunge feeding). Conger is one of just a few humpback whales who has been observed trap feeding in our area so this was really good to see today! After viewing time with Ripple, Guardian and Conger we headed for home in Johnstone Strait and were nearing Turn Point and while scanning backwards to the east, a broadside view of a fin was suddenly visible…ORCAS!  Indeed orcas were seen, three of them, two swimming together and another male further behind. Initially it was thought they were Biggs Transients but it was later confirmed as being some of the I11’s. What a fantastic day that just kept on surprising all of us!

**Update: The I11’s continued travelling to the west, reported being off the Stephenson Islands in Johnstone Strait around 3:30 p.m. Meanwhile, passengers from our tour today, driving to the end of Fir Street in Alert Bay, saw three orcas entering into Pearse Passage around 4.00 p.m. and swimming between the reefs, close along the shoreline while a humpback whale surfaced and dived nearby. They watched as the orcas continued around the NW corner of the Pearse Islands where they lost sight of them, at that time they were seen heading east in Cormorant Channel in the direction of Weynton Passage.

Today’s penned comments: “Thank you for this very nice trip. We really enjoyed watching the whales and we loved your muffins. It was amazing! Thank you. ” Mark & Rebecca, Netherlands

“Maureen and Dave, What a delight it was to join you on this whale watch trip. You took great care of us (delicious muffins, scones and tea!) and found the whales – my first time seeing a humpback! A stellar sea lion, an eagle swimming with a fish, how often does one get to see that?! AND even ORCAS even though it was unlikely that we would see them. We enjoyed the small intimate group feel and Maureen, your squeals of delight! Thank you and all the best.”                                      Jane and Sean from the Sunshine Coast, BC

Thank you so much for another amazing trip out on the boat: I enjoy it every time I come out for a visit. I really enjoyed seeing all of the wildlife and I’m glad that we had a surprise of seeing the orcas towards the end! Thanks again, your great niece Emma”. New Bruswick

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