We enjoyed yet another beautiful day on the water and despite the heavy fog, we had bountiful sightings of both Humpback Whales and Orcas. While Orcas (A30’s and I15’s) were reported being off Blackney Passage earlier in the morning and prior to our leaving the dock, there were no more updates to go on when we headed down Johnstone Strait. Just past Weynton Passage in Johnstone Strait when we stopped to deploy our hydrophone to listen for possible orca vocalizations and blows we could hear the unmistakeable blow of a Humpback Whale nearby. We carried on to the east and suddenly a Humpback Whale surfaced nearby and while we stopped to watch, another Humpback Whale surfaced nearby and then another! Where to look, it was incredible, with one whale lunge feeding, the others surfacing and diving! Common Murres were everywhere which was so good to see, the male parents calling their young, sounding like penguins, their calls were all part of our morning tour and while our visibility in the fog was almost zero, it was still absolutely wonderful watching the giant Cetaceans feeding tirelessly in the flooding current spilling out of Weynton Passage, the Common Murres and Gulls alongside feeding on herring balls. When Orca blows were reported near Parsons Light in Blackfish Sound we began making our way through Weynton Passage and once in Blackfish Sound, we were suddenly surrounded by three more Humpback Whales bringing our count to at least six but likely more. Because of the fog, we will never be sure but one thing we experienced was the amazing breaching behaviour of one of the Humpback Whales of which fortunately some of our passengers were able to photograph, it breached at least four times! As fantastic as it was, we carried on and eventually encountered some of the I15’s and the A30’s as they made their way west, more so along the Swanson Island shoreline. The fog stayed, and even while we watched, the orcas would appear and disappear into the fog, some of our visuals were incredible and for some lucky passengers onboard, they also captured a beautiful breaching Orca! Alas, not us, looking in another direction we missed the photo opportunity, but the vocalizations were stunningly beautiful, A-Clan A30’s and G-Clan I15’s, it was fabulous to simply listen and enjoy the moment. Also seen: Harbour Seals, Stellar Sea Lions, Pacific White-sided Dolphins darting back and forth along with some Dall’s Porpoises, Rhinoceros Auklets, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, Red-necked Phalaropes, Pelagic Cormorants, Belted Kingfishers, Herring, Mew and Glaucous-winged Gulls.
With a report of Orcas (A30’s and I15’s) east of Forward Bay in Johnstone Strait this morning and still easting we explored in through Weynton Passage and it was here that we enjoyed the dynamic behaviour of four Humpback Whales feeding in a specific area of the Passage where large flocks of Common Murres and Rhinoceros Auklets had also gathered. With our engine off and our boat drifting in the current, it was breathtaking to watch the surfacing and diving sequences of the whales as they circled back and forth, surfacing one after another and simultaneously at times with one whale breaching once nearby the boat much to the surprise of us all. The viewing was exciting and superb while the sounds of Murres calling back and forth to their young, the blows and trumpeting of the whales and the background roaring chatter of Stellar Sea Lions all added greatly to the mystical atmosphere and exquisite beauty of the day as seen in the clearing fog. Also seen: Stellar Sea Lions, Dall’s Porpoises, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, Ruddy Turnstones, Black Oyster Catchers, a Pelagic Cormorant, Mew, Herring and Glaucous-winged Gulls. Like yesterday, due to the denseness of the fog that lingered for much of the tour, there is little contrast in the greyness of the photo images posted today.
When we headed out this morning we did so in bright sunshine with a clear view ahead of us down Johnstone Strait while a heavy fog bank hung above us and soon began dropping as we made our way down the Strait to where Orcas had been reported earlier inside the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve. It was therefore an incredibly moving and beautiful encounter that we were fortunate to witness, just as we neared Blackney Passage this morning when Orcas appeared suddenly out of the fog. There were initially two groups, the A30’s were closer to mid-Strait and the A34’s who were slightly behind but closest to Blackney Passage. It was a breathtaking moment to see the A34’s swimming by under water and then surfacing near the bow of the boat and watching as they stalled momentarily while forming a long resting line of 10 individuals, a beautiful sight and somewhat surreal in the morning fog. Taking photo’s was not easy with the fog being so dense, there was little contrast between the black and white Orcas, grey water and dull white foggy surroundings, yet beautiful it was! The A30’s moved ahead along with the A12’s and behind them were the I15’s, spread out, some we observed were foraging along the Hanson Island shoreline and some beautiful G-Clan calls were heard at that point, we had also listened to echolocations and A-Clan calls earlier from the A34’s. Leaving the orcas as they continued moving west, we made our way into Weynton Passage and sighted the blow of a Humpback Whale. The fog was clearing rapidly and soon we could see that there were at least three whales, possibly four moving about in the flooding current, with one seen as far up as Cormorant Channel. It was a fabulous day, topped off as we were nearing Alder Bay with the sighting of yet another Humpback Whale surfacing and diving a distance away from us in Pearse Passage. Also seen today: Stellar Sea Lions, Harbour Seals, Dall’s Porpoises, Bald Eagles, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Red-necked Phalaropes, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, Black Oyster Catchers, Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons and Mew, Herring and Glaucous-winged Gulls.