Taking a moment to listen to the whales and birds…..

Yesterday morning, what should have taken a few minutes of time, extended into nearly an hour. I was outside on the balcony hanging out some washing when I heard the unmistakable blow of a humpback whale. I heard the blows a few times before grabbing the camera and binoculars and waited for the next blow. How wonderful to listen as the loud blows broke the stillness and quietness of early morning, seeing the humpback whale surfacing a few times but not in time to take a photo, and still see a small whale (minke) feeding near where sea birds had gathered. There were numerous bald eagles flying about but due to the rising tide they were unable to reach the remains of a halibut thrown out further along the beach. A belted kingfisher was fishing from the piling nearby and then there were five river otters swimming along and clambering out on the small dock out in front. When I zoomed in and cropped the photo, there was a minke whale feeding back and forth where the humpback whale had also been! Blissful was the time spent outside yesterday morning, living in the moment! Had I not bothered to hang out the washing (it is easier to throw it in the dryer), I would have missed the ‘moment’ and majestic beauty of the ‘living and breathing’ coastline on which so many species, including humans, rely. Meanwhile, even as I write, an oil rig is currently passing through our BC waterways, en route to the Alaskan Arctic Coast for drilling purposes by Shell, in the Chukchi Sea. It brings to mind that somewhere, at some point, an oil spill will occur along the BC/ Alaskan coastline. I cannot begin to imagine what it will do to birds, fish, whale and dolphin populations….our oceans and coastlines are precious!

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Environmental groups, citing harsh conditions and a fragile ecosystem, say it’s a mistake to drill in the Arctic.
“We can’t trust Shell with America’s Arctic. As we all remember, Shell’s mishaps in 2012 culminated with its drilling rig running aground,” Cindy Shogan, executive director of Alaska Wilderness League, said in a statement. “Shell’s 2015 plans are even riskier and dirtier this time around.”
‘Wrong Headed’
Franz Matzner, director of the Beyond Oil Initiative at the Natural Resources Defense Council, called it a “wrong-headed decision.”
“No company deserves a license to despoil our last pristine ocean and spew massive amounts of carbon pollution into our atmosphere,” Matzner said in an e-mail. “Any major Arctic Ocean spill would be impossible to clean up.”
Shell drilled two test wells in 2012 after spending about $6 billion over almost a decade in preparation. This year Shell plans to simultaneously use two vessels to explore about 70 miles from the village of Wainwright. The drilling will take place in 140 feet of water.

Humpback whales in their glory!

While a heavy fog blanketed the waterways this morning we had our first humpback whale sighting shortly after leaving the dock in Alder Bay. Prior to this we enjoyed a delightful time watching the antics of two juvenile river otters while they played on the dock and in the water at Alder Bay. The two at one point were seen sparring one another playfully with their paws and then one curious otter leaped into the water and we watched in amazement when it surfaced right below where we stood on the dock! The humpback whale when we first sighted it was making its way from the reefs at Gordon Rock (Pearse Passage) into Johnstone Strait and crossing over towards Vancouver Island. After viewing several dive sequences it disappeared into the fog and we lost track of it. We carried on, looking at numerous harbour seals hauled out and in the water, bald eagles, oyster catchers, black turnstones, cassin’s and rhinoceros auklets, several gull species and common murres and when we emerged out of the fog into brilliant sunshine in Johnstone Strait we enjoyed viewing dall’s porpoises. In Blackfish Sound we suddenly saw the ridge of a humpback whale surfacing and enjoyed its breathtaking beauty. It was a gorgeous day, the scenery as it emerged from the fog drifting in and out of Blackfish Sound, looking back into Johnstone Strait and then later with the Coast Range Mountains clearly defined in the background, was absolutely spectacular!

Today’s penned comments: We are lucky boys being on this boat. Wanais (4 years). Super fun. Stef (7 years) and Sam (9 years). It’s a really beautiful boat with great tea and muffins. We had a lot of fog but have seen two large humpback whales making beautiful dives. We’ve got lots of information on the fish and the birds and saw bald eagles and nests, river otters, seals porpoises..Thanks for a beautiful trip!                                                                          ~Franke and Niko ~ Belgium IMG_6101 IMG_6098 IMG_6105 IMG_6108 IMG_6157 IMG_6144 IMG_6119 IMG_6115 IMG_6161 IMG_6167 IMG_6171 IMG_6177

River otter – swimming off the deck of the suite ‘On the Beach’ -accommodation

River Otter swimming out in front of the suite 'On the Beach'.

River Otter swimming out in front of the suite ‘On the Beach’.

A great sighting of a river otter swimming in the water just off the deck of our accommodation suite ‘On the Beach’ in Alert Bay this afternoon. River otters and mink are frequent visitors along the waterfront and off the small floating dock in front of ‘On the Beach’.