Close encounters with Humpback Whales who never disappoint!

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Our sightings: Humpback Whales, a Minke Whale, Steller Sea Lions, Harbour Seals, Dall’s Porpoises, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Common Murres, White-winged Scoters, Harlequin Ducks, a Great Blue Heron and Gulls!

The weather had changed so quickly from yesterday’s sunshine and glassy calm waters, yet once again we enjoyed fabulous viewing of Humpback Whales who never disappoint!

Today we observed 7+ whales in our near vicinity with Inukshuk, Merge and Argonaut identified. We observed breaching, tail lobbing and foraging behaviour with some beautiful tail flukes seen. The highlight has to have been the surprise viewing of Argonaut who surfaced nearby enabling everyone to see a humpback whale up close and personal! A minke whale was also seen in passing by some of our passengers.

While wind and wave activity made identification of bird species difficult today (Murrelets and Auklets especially) it added greatly to our Rain Coast wilderness experience along with the generous mix of sea lions and seals we saw hauled out on rocky outcrops that they shared with other bird species!

Photo credits: Muriel Halle. All photo’s have been cropped and taken with a telephoto lens.

Resident and Biggs Orcas, Humpback and Minke Whales ~Superb viewing!

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Sightings: Northern Resident Orcas: A5s, Biggs (Transient) Orcas, Humpback Whales, Dall’s porpoises, Harbour seals, Steller sea lions, Bald Eagles, Belted Kingfishers, Red-Necked Phalaropes, Pigeon Guillemots, California Gulls, Mew Gulls,  Cassin’s Auklets, Marbled Murrelets, Black Oystercatchers and Rhinoceros Auklets.

It was another amazing day and on both of our tours we sighted Orcas and Humpback Whales while the sun was shining brightly and yielded forth a bright blue sea and sky!

Our sighting of orcas occurred shortly after leaving the dock in Alder Bay early this morning when Biggs (Transient) Orcas: T069s passed on by. Travelling west they went close into the shallow waters off the Nimpkish River Estuary and we had some fantastic viewing watching from a distance. We sighted a Minke Whale off Leonard Point on Cormorant Island and had some very good viewing of it as it circled around us. A beautiful rainbow appeared in Cormorant Channel and then there were Northern Resident Orcas, the A5’s who we encountered in Blackfish Sound along with three Humpback Whales!

Our afternoon tour was equally amazing. We encountered the A5’s who had travelled further north out into the Queen Charlotte Strait, passing by the Penfold Islets we watched as they headed back towards Malcolm Island. We enjoyed viewing the A42 Matriline in particular, A66 with his striking tall dorsal fin, his mother A42 and youngest sibling A103, b2013. There were three Humpback Whales that we observed including Guardian who caught our attention as she rolled about in some floating bull kelp in the middle of Blackfish Sound but it was the 10-15 bow surfing Dall’s porpoises in Weynton Passage that stole the show! Listening to the birds chatting in the Stephenson Islands as we drifted, watching harbour seals and bald eagles, it was pure magic at the end of a brilliant day of viewing!

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It was a phenomenal day ~ Orcas, Humpback and Minke Whales with brilliant viewing!

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What a glorious day to be out on a tour, with calm waters, a blue sky and a glassy blue sea. Cruising through the islands en route to orcas we had an early treat of viewing two humpback whales, one of which we saw tail lobbing at a distance away; it  was a great start to the day and everyone was excited in their anticipation of seeing more cetaceans. In Blackfish Sound we observed numerous humpback whale blows in all directions also orca fins were ahead of us while others we could see were far behind. The A30’s were swimming against the ebbing current, moving slowly east towards Blackney Passage while the A23’s and A25’s were ahead of them, also were reported, the A42’s! It was an incredibly beautiful sight to see, their sleek black and white bodies in contrast to and against the background of the brilliant blue water in which they swam.

Behind us we observed a humpback whale travelling in our direction and with our engine off, we drifted in the current, still looking forwards at the orcas but also mindful of the humpback whale coming closer. We fully expected to see it surface a distance ahead, instead it came alongside just under the surface of the water and we could all clearly see the white underside of its pectoral fins passing by so close to the boat. It was a profoundly moving experience for everyone on board to experience, its sheer size and beauty glimpsed momentarily gliding just beneath the water was unforgettable! The whale we have identified as being Conger, a whale who has frequented these waters in the summertime for a number of years.

We made our way further west in Blackfish Sound and enjoyed the approaching large number of orcas; the I15’s and the G27’s who were travelling with them. The orcas were travelling slowly in a wonderful resting line with a single pacific white-sided dolphin in their lead, like the other orcas before them they were taking their time, relaxed and swimming in their mesmerizing surfacing and diving sequence, against the ebbing current. Breathtaking to watch and to also listen to, all the while humpback whales were feeding on either side of the boat, our dilemma being, which way to look?

On our way back through the islands we all enjoyed the tranquil beauty found in those waterways, no other boats passed by us, only birds, stellar sea lions, harbour seals and a mink running along a beach were present and as we were nearing Alder Bay, for the finale, a minke whale was sighted feeding close to shore.  Other birds also seen: rhinoceros auklets, common murre, red-necked phalaropes, belted kingfishers, bald eagles and an eaglet in a nest, black oyster catchers, black turnstones and gull species.

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Today’s penned comments: ” Great day, great landscape, lots of whales, great people who give that to all of us! Perfect! Thanks a lot for such a beautiful day.” Asrid and Jurgen,Germany

“Orcas, humpbacks, stellar sea lions, eagles, blue sky and flat calm. There are those days to spend a day. Lovely day and lovely scones. Very peaceful floating about with the whales and orca. But really, I can’t sing!” Luca, Netherlands

“Beautiful day on the water, thank you so much. The islands, the water, the whales, the food, the company, the entire experience was glorious! Cheers.” Keith, BC

“A very beautiful and great day on the water and on your boat. We saw a lot of orcas, humpbacks and sea lions. A great experience for us. Everything was fine and well done. We enjoyed it and maybe one day we have the chance to come back.” Ralf & Melanie

‘I’m really glad I came back after last year whale watching. Beautiful day, friendly crew and so many orcas! Best way to celebrate my birthday.Thank you!” Katerina, Czech Republic

‘Our whale watching tour today was simply superb! The friendly crew was fantastic and the sailboat was a great way to view the abundant sea life. The sheer numbers of whales we observed was far beyond our expectations! Thank you for a beautiful experience.” Nanaimo, BC

Very professional guided tour and a wonderful way. It has been a nice and respectful way of approaching whales. Friendly and super hospitality as well Devonshire tea was delicious. Thank you so much! Vancouver, BC

The magic of Conger continues with lunge feeding and breaching Humpback Whale activity ~ Fantastic viewing!

IMG_4678 IMG_4677 IMG_4675 IMG_4673 IMG_4670 IMG_4668 IMG_4666 IMG_4659 IMG_4655 IMG_4653 IMG_4648 IMG_4644We escaped the fog and rain today through a rainbow and found some spectacular wildlife in the sun. Today was a day of feeding. There was heavy tidal activity, with hundreds of Rhinoceros Auklets, Gulls, Common Murres, Red-necked Phalaropes, Bald Eagles, flying and feeding and diving for the tiny fish below. In the morning we were able to catch a nice glimpse of the schooling fish the birds were feeding on, there were scales sparkling throughout the benthos. Conger the humpback whale was lunge feeding right amidst the bird activity and very close to shore. In the morning while we were drifting, Conger came right up under the boat and we could all view its white pectorals visible in the water!

We saw Stellar Sea Lions feeding, Dall’s Porpoise rooster tailing in the fast flowing tidal current, and Pacific Harbour Seals hauled out on the rocks. There was a total of four humpback whales swimming and one breaching, and lunge feeding. A few of us even caught a glimpse of an elusive Minke whale on our afternoon tour! It was a  fabulous day of wildlife viewing in the sunshine.

Today’s penned comments:

“Thank you Mike and Sarah, it felt like going out with friends. Cheers”

“Lovely trip, humpbacks, great birds, the sun broke through the mist, rainbow and numerous Dall’s Porpoise. Such a treat to be in this pristine area.” ~ Viki , Bellingham, WA

“Thanks for a great morning. Having the humpbacks swim under the boat was an amazing experience. Thanks for answering all our questions! We’ll come back for the orcas next year.” Holly & Nick, Victoria, Australia

“Very exciting trip, great birds. I loved the views of Conger the Humpback Whale. A magical experience, thanks!” Tora Roksvog, Kirkland, WA

“We had a great trip. We came from Holland to see whales and we found them! Thanks for that. We would like to catch salmon because we saw them jumping. We have learned a lot from this trip, thanks to Sarah and Mike! It was a great adventure :).” ~ Family Ros

“Thank you for a wonderful 5 hours on your sailboat. In this magnificent area of this world it did pay off to see the animals. Cheers” ~ David & Liad

“Thank you for a fantastic whale watching trip” ~The Djurhous Family, Denmark

Humpback whales and a minke whale ~ superb viewing!

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Humpback Whale ~ Argonaut Humpback Whale ~ Argonaut
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It was another beautiful day aboard the SV Tuan. We set sail this morning and headed in the direction of Weynton Passage. Our friend on another sailing vessel gave word of a humpback whale that they had been watching out in Blackfish Sound on the north side of Stubbs Island while simultaneously we sighted the blow of another in Weynton Passage swimming close along the shoreline of the Plumper Islands. The whale was taking some long dives and then appeared to be napping at the waters surface. We observed some beautiful dive sequences that showcased the sheer beauty and size of the flukes before the whale disappeared to depths below. We made our way touring through the islands looking at eagles and their nests, seals cunningly camouflaged among the colourful layers of seaweed and rocky tidal creatures, and shimmering bull kelp in the sunlight. We could see the coastal mountains clearly today when they came out from behind the clouds.
On our way back, a minke whale was reported near Alert Bay and it was after leaving Alder Bay when the minke whale suddenly appeared. It came by us and we were all fortunate to see it in passing. The seabirds and the circling vortex of eagles are what pointed our way to the whale initially. There were some 19 bald eagles circling over a herring ball, taking turns diving at the water with talons out, a few being successful as we all watched mesmerized!
Also seen: Harbour seals, bald eagles+++, dall’s porpoises, rhinoceros auklets, common murres, belted kingfishers and gull species.
Today’s penned comment:
“Second time out with Dave + Maureen. Second trip as memorable as the first 15 years ago. Humpbacks, eagles, seals with perfect weather. Who could ask for anything more.” Don & Pat Woughton, Texas USA (happy 4th of July !)
It was Pat’s 70th whale watching trip of her life today…
Had a wonderful trip! Loved the humpback whale and the fantastic scones and tea. Thanks so much                              ~Mary-Anne and Kevin, BC
An amazing experience, it’s the first time in Canada for us and we love it. Thank you for the excellent dessert! Perfect time. ~ Valentina, Italy
First time out and I am very glad I got to see some whales! That was one of my goals before I leave Alert Bay. I want to say thank you for this amazing experience and delicious muffins and scones. Till next time ~ Shena Woolford, Manitoba
What an awesome time I experienced. I really enjoyed the whale watching with all of the “oohs” and “aahs”. It was certainly a beautiful day. Thanks for all of the informative information about the Alert Bay area birds, seals and whales. All the very best to you and your family. Thanks again in friendship ~ Barbara Woolford, Manitoba.
Thank you for the beautiful tour today! This was my second trip with Seasmoke. This time with my 3 year old son Daniel, the last time he was in my tummy! Always enjoy the beautiful, peaceful scenery and the yummy snacks and company! See you again soon! ~ Bonnie and Daniel Woolford, Vancouver / Locum for the Namgis Health Centre, Alert Bay, BC
Blog today by Sarah

Precious moments watching a minke whale from shore ~

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Passengers from our tour on June 22nd, on their last day in Alert Bay enjoyed nearly an hour’s ‘bliss’ while viewing a minke whale while it foraged back and forth close to shore as they sat quietly observing. Danny and Katrin, only the day before had lost and then found their camera from where it had fallen into the ocean. Now, with their ‘back-up camera, they once again, set about spending their last day In the Bay, immersed in nature! The photo’s were taken by Danny from Belgium.

A fantastic day with some quiet moments spent in the presence of a humpback whale named Ojos Blancos / White Eyes, as well as a minke whale sighting!

How fabulous was our day, with sunshine and sparkling waters and glorious hues of blue reflected in the sea and sky! Our encounter with the humpback whale Ojos Blancos was an exciting one and breathtaking to say the least! It was Roberto from Milan, Italy who first sighted the whale surfacing a distance behind our boat in Weynton Passage as we were making our way towards Blackfish Sound. Luckily for us, Roberto (now called our ‘Whale Man’), was looking in the right direction at the right moment. We watched spellbound as the whale took its time circling back and forth in Weynton Passage in the flooding current. Taking some 3-10 minute dives with 6-13 breathes between dives, we so enjoyed watching this whale,  intent on feeding, unperturbed by our presence. Leaving the whale to forage, we carried on exploring the magical Plumper Island waterway’s, observing numerous bald eagles and their nests and hauled out harbour seals, we also enjoyed a brief encounter of a small group of dall’s porpoises riding at the bow of our boat. It was on our way home that we sighted a minke whale and although it was too far away to accurately identify the whale, thanks to Christie, we now know that both Bolt and Rapid were sighted in the area that we passed through today. We also observed: pigeon guillemots, stellar sea lions, rhinoceros auklets, belted kingfishers, cormorants (pelagic and double-crested), common murres, pacific loons, and gull species.

Today’s penned comments ~

It’s been a great “first” whale experience! The sight of a close humpback whale makes you shiver with excitement and gratefulness…. Thank you so much for sharing your whale stories with us. Alessandra & Roberto (The Whale Man).

Ps: we will be back for the orcas. ~ Milan/Rome, Italy

Beautiful sunny day on the water. Dall’s porposes and a multitude of eagles. The star of the show (and a check on my bucket list) was the humpback whale. The scones and tea were fantastic, really good tea – strong in a brown betty. Maureen and Dave are really knowledgeable and obviously love this gorgeous place. Will recommend this trip to everyone. The boat is smooth and sturdy. Thank you for a great day ~ Lois, Todd and Sam, Parksville, BC

What a beautiful day on the boat. Happy to see a humpback and minke whale and also porpoises! Second time for me with Seasmoke, first time for Bikkki. Thank you Dave and Maureen! I’m sure we will be back. ~ Kim & Biiki, Ontario

Had a wonderful time. Thank you! First time on a sail boat. Was a beautiful peaceful day. Thanks so much for the information shared about the marine life. Spectacular sighting of the humpback, made my day.                                    Thanks ~ Lisa & Jeff, Vancouver, BC

Dear people, It was a wonderful trip. We enjoyed it very much. It was a spectacular!

Thank you so much for everything. ~ Martin en Yvonne from Holland.

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