Humpback whales+++ and Northern Resident orcas: A23’s & A25’s

Where to begin on such a wonderful day of watching whales in Blackfish Sound and Johnstone Strait? When we headed out this morning the wind was still a light NW wind and on leaving Alder Bay we hoisted our main sail and headed in the direction of Weynton Passage where almost immediately we sighted a humpback whale, the first of many that we saw today. The current was ebbing and we were soon in Blackfish Sound and viewing humpback whales, we were seeing them in all directions, near and far away! It was fantastic seeing some 8-9 individual whales, some far out into the Queen Charlotte Strait and others in Blackfish

Cracroft Point ~ webcam www.orca-live.com

Cracroft Point ~ webcam
http://www.orca-live.com

Altogether: A23's & A25's

Altogether: A23’s & A25’s

Sound and Weynton Passage. While making our way down Blackfish Sound viewing humpback whales along the way we were keeping track of the whereabouts of the A23’s & A25’s who had been foraging in

A60

A60

the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve slowly making their way to the west and on them leaving the Reserve Boundary we were at Cracroft Point in Johnston Strait with our mainsail down and our staysail up. The strength of the NW wind had picked up and the stay sail maintained our sailing ability and also our vessel stability, giving us a comfortable  ride. It was fabulous sailing and suddenly we were seeing the A23’s & A25’s, nearby in a resting line and then grouping together and making headway towards Cracroft Point in the choppy waters. The A23’s were in the lead with the A25’s behind, all of them foraging close along the shoreline just east of Cracroft Point on West Cracroft Island and with our hydrophone trailing we briefly heard some A-Clan calls. Suddenly, A60 appeared just off the bow of the boat, accelerating rapidly he was soon behind us, chasing salmon along with A61 & A85 who had been seen only moments earlier foraging behind us. Everyone was thrilled at seeing A60 as he raced on by and the powerful intent and energy that he displayed, it was breathtaking watching him in those moments. We carried on to the west as the orcas made their way west along the Hanson Island shoreline and getting ahead of them we made our way back into Weynton Passage and the Plumper Islands, viewing yet another humpback whale who suddenly surfaced and dived near the bow of the boat, surprising all of us and leaving a lasting impression with us, especially for those seated near the bow of the boat! Also seen today: harbour seals, a stellar sea-lion, dall’s porpoises, rhinoceros auklets, pigeon gullimots, black oyster catchers, ruddy turnstones, belted kingfishers, 3 great blue herons, california, herring and glaucous-winged gulls, bald eagles and an eaglet in the nest.

humpback whales ~ brilliant viewing today!

It was a day of contrast and colour and vivid imagery that made ones head spin, where the scenic beauty was beyond belief and the sheer volume of water passing through Weynton Passage at maximum

dall's porpoise

dall’s porpoise

humpback whale in the surging current

flood and ebb with constant upwellings, tide rip and whirlpools was absolute madness! Where to begin on such a day? This morning when we headed out fog hung low upon the water but clearing in waves to reveal mystical islands that would suddenly appear, only to disappear again! Weynton Passage was already busy with marine life when we arrived and it was not long before we sighted our first humpback whale of the day and observed it feeding in a back eddy close to the Plumper Islands. It was brilliant viewing and exciting when it surfaced suddenly near the bow of the boat on several occasions while the boat drifted in the fast flowing current. Several stellar sea lions were also seen swimming lazily alongside of the Plumper Islands, moving also in a back eddy but in the opposite direction to the humpback whale. Several dall’s porpoises were seen, some porpoising nearby and at the stern of the boat while others were rooster-tailing rapidly through the whirlpools. The fog engulfed us suddenly but while listening for blows a loud  humpback whale blow could be heard and moving towards the sound that carried far into the fog, a whale suddenly dived before us. There were at least three humpback whales in the near vicinity, they were moving in varying directions and we enjoyed them all as they emerged and disappeared into and out of the fog. As the day grew brighter and warmer the islands among the scenic waterways enticed us all to look and listen more keenly at the enormous glistening kelp forests spreading outwards, belted kingfishers darting back and forth, harbour seals hauled out, black oyster catchers and ruddy turnstones; all of them adding to the beauty and majesty of the day. Our afternoon tour was busy with humpback whales and we so enjoyed watching as seven or more circled back and forth and round and round in Weynton Passage, some moving out into Johnstone Strait before cruising back through the current, swept on by in the upwellings and then out towards Stubbs Island before riding back in on the flooding current! It was exceptional viewing, everywhere one looked in all directions there they were! Some were breaching and some tail lobbing, others trumpeting, it was a challenge keeping track of them all. Stellar sea lions were in the mix, as were dall’s porpoises and bald eagles fishing with gulls++ on herring balls. As unbelievable as it sounds we watched a sea lion who was lying back eating a salmon, lose it to an eagle that came swooping in, taking the portion of salmon not yet eaten and the expression on the face of the sea lion in that moment was priceless to us, the audience watching on! Today on the water it was phenomenal, the images vividly portrayed were wondrous and powerfully energizing as only nature can be.