A wonderful time viewing a Sea Otter and Humpback Whales!

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October 2, 2016

Our sightings: Humpback Whales, a Sea Otter, Steller Sea Lions, Harbour Seals, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Common Murres, Ancient Murrelets, White-winged Scoters, Great Blue Herons and Gulls.

It was a wonderful outing we enjoyed with the Alert Bay Rangers and what a great troup to have on board! The sun was shinning brightly and the sea was like glass, it was a glorious day for everyone to enjoy all of the magic in our surroundings so close to home!

The Humpback Whales were numerous with Yahtzee, Freckles, Moon Star, Merge, Frosty and Quartz identified and we were very lucky to see one breach.

The highlight of the day had to have been the near sighting of a Sea Otter that we observed with a sea urchin and watching it roll around in amongst a kelp forest.

We also enjoyed some close encounters with Stellar Sea Lions and a group of Dall’s Porpoises who came swimming alongside the boat while we sat idle and drifting. What more could we ask for!


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

Tears of Joy ~ Humpback Whales, Orcas and a Sea Otter!

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Our sightings:
Orcas (A25’s/A23’s), six Humpback Whales, one Sea Otter, Dall’s Porpoises, Harbour Seals, Bald Eagles, Red-Necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets, Pigeon Guillemots, Marbled Murrelets, Belted Kingfishers and Gull species.

What an amazing day, a calm sea with clear visibility everywhere we looked. We caught sight of our first Humpback Whale which was Argonaut and sightings of Ojos Blancos and Guardian followed. It was very exciting because as we were waiting for a humpback whale to surface, we suddenly spotted a Sea Otter swimming on its back then rolling and diving, then up it would come again and again as it swam along. The Humpback Whale Slash and her new calf were also observed, they were headed towards Weynton Passage, following behind the other three whales we had already seen, for they were now all travelling back into Weynton Passage. The whales were all taking long dives and Slash and her calf were a beautiful pair to watch, the calf keeping close to its mother’s side.

Orcas were reported travelling into the east end of the Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve and we headed in their direction, viewing a Humpback Whale while passing through Blackney Passage. At the time of our arrival the orcas were spread out well inside the Reserve boundary, foraging close to the Tsitika River Estuary. We sat drifting with our engine off, watching and waiting and were fortunate when they swam past the western Boundary of the Reserve. They were the A23’s/ A25’s and as we sat idle and drifting we observed while an adult male orca foraged parallel to the rest of the orcas who foraged close along the Vancouver Island shoreline. We could hear echolocation via our hydrophone as A61 foraged closer and what a wonderful sight it was to see him.

It was an emotional sighting for some on board the boat today, especially for Pamela who has waited so long to see orcas in the wild. Keeping to her promise to not ever visit an aquarium again that held orcas after she had watched two orcas held in captivity as a child some 20 years ago. Bravo A61, swimming wild and free, he gave to all of us, a heartfelt and magnificent viewing and tears of joy as well!

Please note ~ the photo’s are taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

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Fabulous viewing of Humpback Whales and a Sea Otter!

How incredible was our day beginning with a rainbow as we were leaving the dock at Alder Bay and a sighting of a sea otter, early on in our tour. It was quite by chance that we even saw the otter as it was swimming in amongst a kelp forest and disappeared from view on a dive, suddenly resurfacing with a sea urchin upon its chest! There were no reports of  orcas this morning but numerous sightings of humpback whales and we observed blows off Bold Head and also near Parsons Light in Blackfish Sound. We headed first in the direction of Parsons Light and encountered some five humpback whales circling around, some venturing down towards Blackney Passage, while others were near Parsons Light and White Beach Passage. We also encountered numerous stellar sea lions feeding on salmon along with gulls waiting for scraps to fall. Travelling back via Bold Head we could see some five or more humpback whales feeding on herring/bait balls and it was astonishing to watch the activity of the whales as they lunged through the herring, three together at times while two were seen trap feeding. It was incredible watching the whales feeding nearby and at a distance, their sheer size, beauty and momentum was incredible and so exciting to watch! Guardian and Slash were amongst the whales that we saw today and as the day progressed the SE wind blowing felt warm at times and enabled us to sail. The sun was shinning brightly on our return. We also saw: common murres ++ and some chicks, rhinoceros auklets, red-necked phalaropes, harbour seals, great blue herons, bald eagles and gull species.

**While numerous photo’s were taken today, we are still unable to download photo’s from our camera!

Today’s penned comments: “Thanks so much for a day with so much fun and experience, which we will never forget.” Heike & Michael, Germany.

“What a wonderful day! The sight of Humpbacks surrounding the boat and trap feeding with their huge mouths gaping will stay with us forever. Thank you!” Penny & Nick, UK

“Never expected to see all that I saw today. It was a terrific experience. Thank you for your work at keeping whales and sea life alive in our minds.”

Beautiful tour and superb food! Erik & Diana, Netherlands

A wonderful day with incredible humpback whale viewing plus a sea otter ~unbelievable beauty throughout the area, highlighted by the brightness of the day!

What a day to have chosen to be on the water, with barely a breath of wind and the scenery today was spectacular! The view looking down Johnstone Strait when we first headed out this morning and up through Blackfish Sound later on in the morning was remarkable, the lighting added warmth and beauty enhancing greatly our viewing of natures seascape!

With early reports of orcas travelling east off Adam’s River this morning we headed down Johnstone Strait hoping for their change of movement back to the west. Near Weynton Island we were fortunate in seeing a sea otter, a rare sighting in our area, it was fabulous seeing this otter, lying on its back while drifting in the current. We did not try and get close to the individual, it was good viewing it at a distance so as not to disturb while seeing it nearby! In Blackney Passage we observed a humpback whale blow and as we neared the area, we could see the whale was moving about in wide circles in the region of Blackney Passage and travelling far out into Johnstone Strait, there was herring ball activity++, with rhinoceros auklets and common murres feeding along with gull species and large flocks of red-necked phalaropes were also seen in Blackney Passage in the fast flowing flooding current.

Two more humpback whales were up near Parsons Light, one slipped on down to Blackney Passage during a long dive and we could see its blow far behind the boat when it finally surfaced while another whale surfaced beside us suddenly, giving us quite a surprise as we were not expecting such a close viewing. The current today was at its peak in the flood while we were making our way against it in Blackfish Sound and the whales were moving about in the current considerably! How wonderful was our viewing and then nearing the top end of Blackfish Sound where numerous diving birds had gathered and were resting, another humpback whale was making its way east in the flood and after surfacing twice was soon behind us. Suddenly out of the corner of our eyes, the humpback whale surfaced lunging and looked to be headed directly across the Sound towards where gulls were seen gathering at the surface and feeding on herring. As the gulls flew upwards, we were all eagerly awaiting for it to lunge feed and we were not disappointed when it was suddenly seen opening wide its mouth and was “trap feeding” briefly. The whale was ‘Conger’, a whale who is one of a few individuals in our local waters, observed frequently “trap feeding!”

Also seen today: stellar sea lions++ swimming and hauled out, harbour seals, belted kingfishers, common murre chicks with their fathers x 2, bald eagles & dall’s porpoises. Yesterday was the first day of seeing a common murre chick trailing behind its father calling++, today we saw two chicks, each with their father. The fathers (who are moulting) and their unfledged chicks are extremely vulnerable to boat strike and attack by Biggs (Transient) Orcas at this crucial stage in their lives and it is important for all mariners to be aware of their vulnerability and inability to fly.

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Today’s penned comments: “Fantastic weather, very nice crew and delicious homemade made. We saw lots of whales and other wildlife. Thank you for a beautiful trip.” Christian & Franziska, Germany

“Beautiful weather, gorgeous wildlife, yummy scones and tea, perfect day! Thank you very much, see you next time.”  Peter & Frauke, Inken, Fabian and Miriam, BC

“What a nice and exciting trip with you! Thanks alot for this nice day and the good food (these scones are excellent, yummy!!)” George & Ursula, Switzerland

“One perfect day, very enjoyable, lots of whales, the weather was great, food excellent and the crew very knowledgeable. Thank you very much.” Rowner & Walbunga, BC

A beautiful day in the company of gentle giants and other marine species including a Sea Otter!

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The Resident Orcas were far off to the east and west today however, we had wonderful company and viewings aboard the S.V. Tuan. We saw several humpbacks including individuals: Ripple, Guardian, and KC. Some that we observed were foraging in the tidal currents, fully focussed they were engaged in feeding! KC we viewed in the very scenic area out from the White Cliff Islands where the view-scape and back drop showing the Coast Range Mountains today with several photo’s of one of KC’s dive sequence is quite spectacular! The gorgeous hues of the colour blue of the sky and water is accentuated a little more by the contrast of white shown on KC’s fluke. There were Stellar Sea Lions swimming along with us as well as Dall’s Porpoises and hauled out Harbour Seals (mothers and their pups) on the rocks as we travelled via some scenic island waterways. It was very exciting to catch sight of and view at a distance a Sea Otter, this is possibly the same otter that has been in the vicinity for several weeks now and appears to be doing well.

There were also a lot of surface feeding activity with Rhinoceros Auklets, Gull species and Common Murres all were feeding in the tidal current while other bird species seen today included Bald Eagles, Black Turnstones, Black Oystercatchers, Red-necked Phalaropes and Harlequin Ducks.

Today’s penned comments:

“Amazing tour! Thank you, any day at sea is better than the best day on land. Great sights, great hosts! Thank you” Roanna, Victoria BC

“Beautiful sight-seeing. Loved seeing the whales and sea lions. Best tea & scones we have ever had. Will be telling all our friends and family about this tour, thank you for the excellent hosts!”
Jazaray and Jason, Phoenix, AZ

“Had a great time, would do it all again, wonderful to see the humpback whales” Donna & Mike, Airdrire, Alberta

Humpback Whales with Dall’s Porpoise feeding alongside and a surprise viewing of a Sea Otter!

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What a gorgeous morning it was! The sea was calm, the sun was out, and we left the Bay with no idea what creatures that we would see today. As we neared the Stephenson Islands we could see and hear Black Turnstones on the rocky shoreline and Black Oystercatchers with their long orange beaks. There were Pacific Harbour Seals, their skin shimmering in the sunlight, it is remarkable how camouflaged they are. They were mostly hauled out but we saw quite a few in the water and fishing as well.

There were Bald Eagles bountiful and soaring, at one time we counted 14 in the sky. We also had our first sighting of female Red-necked Phalaropes for the season and flying in their beautiful patterns while skimming over the surface of the water. Once again Common Murres and Rhinoceros Auklets led us to the Humpback Whales. We had wonderful sightings of “Conger” and “Ripple,”, the latter having been coming here to feed for the last ten summers! The blue and pinky tinged colour of the water today and the blue sky was absolutely beautiful and at one point we had some viewing of Dalls Porpoise feeding alongside one of the Humpback Whales, they were superb and precious viewing moments!

On our way back through the calm waters of the Sound we encountered a small Sea Otter, it is quite possibly the same one that we have seen once before several weeks ago, and has been sighted often by others in recent weeks.  It is still very rare to see Sea Otters in our area of ‘inside waters’, but they are slowly making their way back in from the West Coast. What a sweet sight for all of us to observe and quite different from the seals and Stellar Sea Lions of the area. It was a nice little surprise to add to our beautiful morning on the water.

“Awesome – whales, birds, great crew and divine people and tea. Thank you!”
Linda James, full time RVer

“This was great! Loved the narration. Thanks for having us.”
Mary Nebel, full time RVer

“Wonderful views, whales, and birds. A great day, thank you.”
Sandra & Mark, Scotland

“What an authentic crew of people. Full of true enthusiasm for nature and vast knowledge to back it up. We very much enjoyed the intimate experience and will be encouraging other tourists to join a day with SeaSmoke.”
Jen & Giacamo, Ottawa & Italy