What a special day ~ Biggs (Tansient) Orcas and two Minke Whales!

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Passengers boarding in Alert Bay this morning enjoyed a special viewing of a minke whale while they sat quietly onboard the boat waiting for others to arrive, how good does it really get!  There was not a breath of wind this morning when we left the dock in Alder Bay, it was perfect weather to spot whales (blows and fins) miles away. There was a Biggs (Transient) Orca sighting reported at Blackney Passage earlier this morning and as I planted my orca beans (runner bean seeds that look like little orcas), I was hopeful we’d encounter them today.
It was not too long into the trip that a speedy orca fin was spotted while scanning the area out through Weynton Passage, they were at the Stephenson Islands and moving quickly in the heavy ebbing current. Taking long breathes they disappeared from sight having passed through a channel of the Pearse Island group. We carried on in the direction that we had last caught a glimpse of them and were delighted when they suddenly surfaced nearby giving us all some exceptional viewing. There were six orcas in total and passing by numerous hauled out harbour seals on rocky outcrops and a pair of harbour porpoises, it appeared that they were not in ‘hunting mode’, carrying on their way instead, they slowed their pace giving us all a chance to view at a distance, their dive sequence. Jared (DFO) identified them as the T60’s (T60 with her offspring ~ T60C/14 years, T60D/11 years, T60E/7 years, T60F/3 years)  a family of 5 individuals, with T2B/36 years swimming with them at times close, and sometimes just behind; T2B is of a similar age to T60.
We watched as a minke whale came very close to the pod of orcas, there appeared some brief underwater ‘swirling of water’ and a large splash was seen a distance away, quite possibly the minke whale who had sped off out of the area while the orcas continued on their way heading steadily west passing Sointula on their way. We turned back and another minke whale (identified by Jared/DFO as Rapid) was sighted in the distance where rhinoceros auklets and common murres had gathered and bald eagles and gulls as well right in front of Alert Bay. The auklets and murres were feeding from ‘below the water and gulls and eagles from above’ all on a bait ball that the diving seabirds had formed by their diving expertise! We even got a whiff of that potent oily breath of the minke whale! It was a very exciting and special day to see the Biggs Orcas as well as the  Minke Whales (there were three in total in the area today: Rapid, Surf and likely Eclipse). Also seen: dall’s porpoises, harbour seals++, marbled murrelets, pigeon guillemots, black oyster catchers, cassin’s auklets, belted kingfishers, tree swallows and gull species.
Today’s penned comments: Thank you for the beautiful experience! It was simply incredible to see the orcas this ‘up-close!’ A boating trip to remember! All the best to you and hopefully till next time! Love ~ Maika & Leon, Netherlands
Thank you for such a fantastic trip. What a beautiful day and we were so lucky to see the orcas up close. What an amazing experience and we will certainly be recommending this tour to our family and friends in England. ~ Sophie & Kym, England
Wow, so much to see, special trip. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and lovely Devonshire Tea, cream and scones. Lovely morning ~ Barb and Rick
Blog today by Sarah
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Two humpback and two minke whales…nature’s magic was at play with us today!

Even before we left the dock with our passengers from Alert Bay this morning two minke whales were sighted, travelling very slowly they were observed making their way east in front of Alert Bay. A fast moving boat not seeing the whales as they approached heading west (or so it seemed), and the whales dived and on their next surfacing were observed to be far across and close to Vancouver Island. We kept them in our sight as we ourselves crossed over to Alder Bay and once we had docked there, we sat and watched as the two whales parted company, one travelled off-shore several hundred metres while the other stayed in close to the Vancouver Island shoreline. As we waited for more passengers to board, we were occupied while watching a river otter on the dock, unperturbed by our presence, it took its time before leaping back into the water. It was fabulous observing the minke whales and smelling the pungent breathe of one, long after it disappeared beneath the water. The viewing of them was superb! Thanks to Christie, we believe one of the minke whales was Bolt and the other was likely Eclipse or Ripple, exciting news as neither Eclipse or Ripple have been sighted in our area as yet this season. The visual beauty out on the water today I can only describe as being ‘heaven on earth’, it was truly beautiful and breathtaking, each and everywhere one looked! The Coast Range Mountains today on the BC Mainland were splendid, their mountain peaks peered out at us in a beckoning fashion, the rest staying hidden beneath a blanket of fog. Suddenly the blow of a humpback whale appeared well ahead of us, the fluke following as the whale commenced to dive. It was exciting and exceptional to see the large whale moving about in the fast flowing ebbing current in Weynton Passage and then to suddenly see a second humpback whale surface simultaneously nearby the other! We have identified the first whale we saw as being White Eyes, a whale that we have seen several times so far this season, the second humpback whale was a surprise sighting and was Argonaut, the first sighting of this whale this summer! Thanks to Christie and Jackie www.mersociety.org for letting us know this exciting news. Words cannot describe the sheer magnificence of these large baleen whales on such a glorious day and to see as well dall’s porpoises feeding intently; a mother and calf nearby as we drifted in the current, was a special sight for us all to see! The island waterways glistened in vibrant colours from rocky outcrops covered in kelp to high treetops upon which bald eagles rested, the kelp forests appeared to be on fire today, the imagery of them stretching upwards from depths below to lie upon the water was fascinating. Other species also seen today included: a mink, a stellar sea lion, rhinoceros auklets, common murres, belted kingfishers, white-winged scoters, pigeon guillemots, harbour seals and gull species.

Some penned comments from our tour: What a wonderful experience! From minkes, humpbacks, sea lions, seals and eagles! So much to see and so much learned! Thanks Maureen and Dave, its been a great day. Liz & Mike ~ Ontario

Thank you for such a fun trip. I don’t know how you managed such nice weather for us! Kathy and Henry ~Alberta

The most amazing day! Thank you so much for the incredible experience and all we learned from you.                                Jim and Valerie ~ BC

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Orcas, Humpback Whales and two Minke Whales ~ an amazing day!

It was another beautiful sunny day on the water and there was much cetacean activity in our local waters to enjoy. Two minke whales were seen en route to Donegal Head this morning prior to our meeting up with the I15’s who were travelling in quickly with the flooding current along the north shoreline of Malcolm Island, two humpback whales were also seen in Blackfish Sound. The orcas (I15’s) took the Weynton Passage route into Johnstone Strait and we waited, observing them as they entered the Strait and then travelled back towards Alder Bay while viewing the A23’s, A25’s and A36’s who had travelled west in Johnstone Strait!  On our afternoon tour passengers enjoyed viewing some of the I15’s along with the A25’s and A23’s, all of them were seen making their way east in Johnstone Strait. It was a busy day for the orcas who were spending a lot of their time and energy travelling++ up and down the Strait in the midst of a commercial fishery. Also seen today: harlequin ducks, cassins and rhinoceros auklets, storm petrels, common murres, dall’s porpoises, stellar sea lions, harbour seals, gull species, bald eagles++ and two eaglets on branches above the nest, moving about while a parent was also observed bringing a fish and landing with it in the nest.

Today’s penned comments: ” Far exceeded our expectations and hopes! What an exciting trip, could recommend it to anybody. Thanks!” ~ M. van der Kam, Netherlands

“Thanks for a lovely afternoon. We enjoyed seeing the whales and other wildlife.” ~ Nicole and Rob. Victoria, BC

“Had a great afternoon and saw a whole bunch of orcas. Mama and baby orca! Amazing scenery, a beautiful place. Thanks for tea/coffee and snacks. We especially liked to go out on a sailboat compared to the typical ‘zodiac’ whale watching boats. Would recommend it to everybody” ~ Anna-Maria & Bernadette, GermanyIMG_9188 IMG_9575 IMG_9960 IMG_0260 IMG_0264 IMG_0271 IMG_0279 IMG_0307 IMG_0314 IMG_0326 IMG_0328 IMG_0083 IMG_0257

Orcas, Humpback and Minke Whales ~ superb viewing!

It was another fabulous day of sunshine, calm waters and the sky and sea reflected a lovely shade of blue that was pleasing to the eye, the scenery was breathtaking and beautiful as well! Once again, the two juvenile river otters amused us while we were docked at the Alder Bay Resort prior to our tour departure and one cannot help but be amused by their playful antics! When we headed out this morning we were soon in sight of orcas, the I15’s were spread out from Bauza Islets across the Strait to almost the Pearse Islands and we encountered them as they drew parallel to the Stephenson Islands as they made their way out through Weynton Passage in the ebbing current. It was amazing to see the spread of dorsal fins, some near and some far, all across Weyton Passage travelling directly north they went and while passing through the Passage a humpback whale was seen across the Plumper Island shoreline. We had a fabulous view of two orcas who suddenly changed direction and headed towards our boat as it sat idle and drifting and soon they were alongside where we could look down through the water at their sheer size and beauty! Also swimming with the I15’s again today were two pacific white-sided dolphins, quite possibly the two that we have seen travelling with them in recent days. With our hydrophone deployed we heard some brief G-Clan calls from the I15’s which was wonderful to listen to. Turning back we enjoyed viewing three humpback whales, one of whom was Argonaut, we also had sightings of two minke whales on the way home. On our afternoon tour we also enjoyed an early sighting of two minke whales shortly after departing from Alder Bay, they were steadily foraging in the ebbing current of Pearse Passage.  Following this, we were soon in the company of humpback whales who were fabulous to watch, especially when ‘Argonaut’ at one point surprised us with a brilliant full breach that two passengers onboard were lucky to photograph, especially lucky as the breach was spontaneous and close by! The viewing of two eaglets in their nest alongside of one of the parents was also a special treat to see. Also seen today: dall’s porpoises, harbour seals, rhinoceros auklets, common murres, pigeon guillemots, fork-tailed storm petrels, red-necked phalaropes, belted kingfishers and gull species.

Today’s penned comments: It was amazing! We saw a lot of orcas and whales. What beautiful animals and sea. Thank you for the wonderful day! ~ Thomas & Afra, The Netherlands

A trip never to forget! Thanks for your passion about whales! ~ Demoor Family, Belgium

Beautiful trip, no orcas but plenty of whales, beautiful surroundings and perfect weather. We loved it!                      ~ de Ronde Family, NetherlandsIMG_9702 IMG_9688 IMG_9701 IMG_9709 IMG_9714 IMG_9717 IMG_9737 IMG_9750 IMG_9778 IMG_9792 IMG_9794 IMG_9799 IMG_9817 IMG_9820 IMG_9859 IMG_9686

 

Orcas, Humpback and Minke Whales with breathtaking moments in their company!

It turned out to be a long day yet a fabulous one with some close encounters of orcas, humpback and minke whales. When we headed out this morning the orcas ( I15’s and A42’s), who had been reported milling off Blackney Passage began travelling east and slowly made their way into the Ecological Reserve. When we caught up to them they had still not ventured past the east end of the Reserve, and while many were seen in a resting line close to the Vancouver Island shoreline inside of the Reserve, a group of three were seen across the Strait on the West Cracroft Island side of Johnstone Strait. The orcas, all continued moving east on both sides of the Strait and we enjoyed a magical encounter of two foraging after salmon nearby, turning back and forth lunging after their prey. It was exciting to watch the speed at which they lunged and the momentum of their bodies moving rapidly through the water focused and intent on their prey! We made our way back while enjoying Devonshire Tea and were soon up in Blackney Passage viewing a large herring ball and later dall’s porpoises feeding and two humpback whales, one of whom (Argonaut) surfaced nearby! It was brilliant viewing and on we went, heading for Alder Bay when a minke whale surfaced suddenly ahead of us and that too was a fabulous sighting. A second minke whale was seen in the distance and closer to Alert Bay. It was a brilliant ending to a day of some exceptional visual encounters!

Today’s penned comments: Seasmoke Tour has been beyond our expectations! The tour was very personal and intimate which made this a memorable experience. Our tour guide and Captain were both enthusiastic and passionate about marine mammals which led to the sighting of orcas, humpback and minke whales. We were able to gain a great deal of knowledge from our tour guide about marine wildlife. The warm freshly baked muffins and scones were an added treat! I highly recommend Seasmoke for your whale watching tour!!! Such a lovely day. Sofia and Tanner ~ Toronto, Canada ~ Thanks So Much!!!

Seasmoke went above and beyond finding us some whales to view. But almost as spectacular as the whales was the story telling that Maureen did in between, sharing personal antidotes and whale facts. A day well spent! And the muffins and scones didn’t hurt either! Thanks for everything! Jeremy Tankard ~ Vancouver

This tour was incredible. At first it was pretty fun just going on the water(and the muffins and scones were an extra bonus), but then we saw the whales and it was amazing! We saw 3 kinds of whales, and we saw them really close-up too, which was really cool. All in all, this tour was an amazing experience that I highly recommend.

Hermione Tankard (age 12) ~ Vancouver, BCIMG_7750 IMG_7765 IMG_7769 IMG_7773 IMG_7781 IMG_7784 IMG_7803 IMG_7816 IMG_7822 IMG_7825 IMG_7837 IMG_7845

Humpback Whales in their element of wind and waves and breaching!

It was a fabulous day with strong NW winds blowing and sunshine which was welcomed after recent days of heavy fog in the waterways that we travel. It was at the top end of Blackfish Sound that we sighted our first humpback whale and while it passed us heading to the west quickly in the ebbing current, we carried on and could not believe the number of humpback whales present towards the bottom end of Blackfish Sound with five more counted spread across the Sound, possibly six with Argonaut among them! Ahead of this we had bow-riding dall’s porpoises which was truly exciting, especially for the children onboard. One of the humpback whales could be seen breaching and tail lobbing a distance away which all added to the atmosphere of wind, waves and whales and it was extremely exhilarating for everyone watching. We made our way back through Blackfish Sound passing more dall’s porpoises and a small group of harbour porpoises. It was amongst the Plumper Islands that passengers enjoyed a quiet time of viewing pristine waterways with bald eagles soaring and perched on high, with eagle nests with one eaglet seen in a nest, and kelp forests flowing in the current; it was quietly beautiful, travelling slowly and all while partaking of our Devonshire Teas. Nearing Alder Bay a minke whale was sighted and a second one shortly after!

Today’s penned comment: 

We had such a beautiful time, enjoyed every lasting moment, not in my dreams would I ever think or imagine it being so beautiful. Well instructed and well taking care of and very well informed, like being on a science tour. I’m from the Island but this really brings home how beautiful our Island is! Best tour in our life time!!

Judy Rumley ~ Duncan, BCIMG_6722 IMG_6734 IMG_6753 IMG_6754 IMG_6755 IMG_6756 IMG_6765 IMG_6770 IMG_6771 IMG_6780 IMG_6474

Humpback and Minke Whales, bow-riding Dall’s Porpoises and Dolphins, glorious and wonderful!

It was an incredible day to say the least with two wedding anniversaries being celebrated on board today, a 10th and 14th anniversary! What a fabulous day we all enjoyed with the sighting of a minke whale surfacing suddenly off our port side in the fog and although brief was the sighting it was fabulous for those on the port side of the boat! While travelling on through the fog we suddenly found a group of Dall’s Porpoises riding at the bow of our boat,  delightful to watch as they darted back and forth and before we knew it, we were out of the fog and watching two humpback whales one of whom was Slash. As the fog quickly receded, a brilliant inky blue sky and water were revealed, it was an awesome and welcomed sight! Another group of dall’s porpoises were feeding nearby including a mother and her calf which was very special to see for all of us, as well, a group of pacific white-sided dolphins who commenced to ride at the bow of our boat when we headed back. The day was such a beautiful one and ended with the viewing of a herring ball with gulls galore feeding++ along with common murres and rhinoceros auklets, and then finally, we saw another minke whale!

Today’s penned comments: Really enjoyable trip. Very scenic with lots of dolphins, porpoises, humpback whales, sea lions. It was awesome. Perfect hosts made this trip informative as well as enjoyable, the tea and scones were delicious. Vicki and Robin ~ Comox, BC.

Thank you for making our 10th wedding anniversary so memorable – amazing sightings today and fantastic accommodations as well – perfect in every way. Al and Lauren ~ Cranbrook, BC

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