Humpback Whales breaching, lunge and trap feeding and Dolphins and Sea Lions feeding as well!

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Our sightings: Humpback Whales, Pacific White-sided Dolphins++, Steller Sea Lions, Harbour Seals, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots, Marbled and Ancient Murrelets, Sooty Shearwaters+, Harlequin Ducks, Pelagic Cormorants and Gulls Galore!

It was another remarkable day in which the weather conditions were changing by the moment and had us departing on our tour in heavy rainfall while arriving back home to a gorgeous afternoon of clearing skies and sunshine!

How good it was to see the Humpback Whales again today! There were at the very least 12 + that we saw including Moon Star, Inukshuk, Freckles, Slash and her calf. We observed lunge and trap feeding and a very close breach by Inukshuk, as well as a close passing of Inukshuk and Freckles as we sat drifting in the current with our engines off.

We had some wonderful viewing of Sea Lions, some of whom were ripping apart fish surrounded by Gulls. There were some 200+ Dolphins swimming amongst Humpback Whales with high jumps seen, we also had them passing by us as we headed for home! Today’s tour gave to all of us breathtaking scenic beauty and phenomenal Cetacean encounters!

Photo credits: Muriel Halle. Photo’s have been taken by a telephoto lens and cropped.

A phenomenal day ~ A Minke Whale, Orcas, Humpback Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises and more!

September 15th, 2016

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Our sightings: A Minke Whale, Biggs (Transient) Orcas, Humpback Whales, Dall’s Porpoises, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Steller Sea Lions, Harbour Seals, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Red-Necked Phalaropes, Common Murres, Sooty Shearwaters, Fork-tailed Storm Petrels, Belted Kingfishers and Gulls galore!

Fog and drizzle greeted us this morning attempting to dampen our spirits but instead, our spirits soared from the onset because of what was then to follow. Like a spell unravelling, the magic began with a near sighting of a Minke Whale soon after we left the dock in Alder Bay! It was a peaceful encounter and we sat observing it in silence for a longtime watching as it surfaced and dived while active in feeding.

We made our way out through Weynton Passage and had a fabulous viewing of two Humpback Whales, one of which was trap feeding nearby. It was an incredible sight to watch as the large whale slowly surfaced with its mouth gaping wide open and its body hanging vertically, seemingly suspended in the water while small shoaling fish (herring) swam into its wide open mouth and then once inside the “trap” the mouth closed.

There was a report of Biggs (Transient) Orcas in George Passage travelling east, some 8-10 orcas who were later identified as the T049s and T019s. Our viewing of them when they unexpectedly surfaced nearby was breathtaking, the images of the big black and white Orcas was stunning to see and filled our hearts and minds to the brim!

Our afternoon tour found us viewing Humpback Whales, some were close while others were in the distance and some of them including Ridge were trap feeding.  The same Biggs (Transient) Orcas as seen on our morning tour were seen near the Sophia Islets in Johnstone Strait, they were in a resting line while T049A1 and T019C we observed were still in close physical contact to one another as they had been on the morning tour, it was wonderful watching the two interact while the other orcas rested nearby.

It was an amazing day with so much to see and presented us with a myriad of Cetacean species, big and small, when porpoises and dolphins also appeared into the mix!

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

An amazing day with Orcas, Humpback Whales, Sooty Shearwaters and so much more!

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Sooty Shearwater

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Harlequin Duck (Female)

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Our sightings: Northern Resident Orcas, Humpback Whales, Bald Eagles, Dall’s Porpoises, Steller Sea Lions, Harbour Seals, one California Sea Lion, Rhinoceros and Cassin’s Auklets, Red-Necked Phalaropes, Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots, Sooty Shearwaters++, Fork-tailed Storm Petrels, Canada Geese and Gulls.

It was a day of colour and contrast as the fog shifted and drifted over wide areas. Orcas were reported in the Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve early in our tour and so we made our way out into Weynton Passage and enjoyed the sights and sounds of a myriad of seabirds and of Humpback Whales feeding! There were five whales in our surroundings with Argonaut and Conger among those that we saw. All of the whales were feeding back and forth in wide circles nearby.

We arrived near the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve just in time to see the A30s travelling past the Western boundary of the Reserve.  We listened to their beautiful A-Clan vocalizations and we all so enjoyed seeing and hearing them as they passed on by, our viewing of them was quite superb!

How beautiful was our day, the lighting was gorgeous and the drifting fog rising and disappearing virtually before our eyes was indeed a wonderful sight. The large numbers of Sooty Shearwaters, en route to their summer nesting destinations on remote islands off New Zealand’s South Island and Australia were extraordinary to watch. Seeing them fly and soar in a gliding fashion close to the waters surface and suddenly drop and dive beneath to feed was remarkable!

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

Seeing beauty everywhere and Humpback Whales too!

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Today was our last tour and what a lovely day it was to end our season on! It was an incredible gift where everyone onboard felt a great sense of gratitude, peace and beauty for it was all around us, everywhere we looked today! The humpback whales did not disappoint us and even while we made our way towards two of them feeding on a bait ball early on in our tour, we could see three more in the distance working the area near Weynton Island with some trap feeding by one of the whales that ended before we arrived!

How amazing it was to watch the movement of so many humpback whales circling around and around and to listen to the pattering of webbed feet of vast numbers of sooty shearwaters as they made their way across the water to feed several metres or so away, often not even taking to their wings in flight but walking along the top of the water in a pattering fashion! We observed, time and again when gulls began feeding on top of a herring / bait ball,  the sooty’s would immediately arrive, some by pattering their way there and others by flying and plunging into the water around them, causing the gulls to take flight for they were vastly out numbered by the shearwaters, and even the common murres were out numbered as well! We have never before seen the shearwaters linger so long in the area and feed so intensively on the herring as they have been doing. In previous years they have flown in to rest and feed briefly before flying off to remote islands in the South Pacific Ocean and they were usually seen off Bold Head and the top end of Blackfish Sound whereas this year they are everywhere, including Johnstone Strait.

Sitting out on deck watching the humpback whales circling around and around, two of them together at times, the pinky blue colours of the sky reflected on the water, the rocky outcrops and nearby chain of the Plumper Island waterway’s, the Coast Range Mountains with their peaks obscured today by clouds, all of it was magnificent!  Acoustically, with the calling cries of the murres, gulls and red-necked phalaropes, the humpback whale exhalations, pattering sound of the shearwaters and stellar sea lions roaring in the background, one could not help but feel a sense of stillness and absolute peacefulness where nothing else mattered at all!

Some heartfelt moments that occurred today: four dall’s porpoises went by our boat as we sat drifting with our engine off, there was a mother and her calf among them, they passed by us so quietly, it was a beautiful viewing to see them so close and so unaffected by our presence. Yet another small sparrow species visited us briefly today, sitting upon the hand of one of our guests as she held onto the top of our cockpit roof, it rested momentarily before flying off, that was a very rare and special moment in time!

This place on earth is precious and priceless and ‘giving in abundance’ at all times. How wonderful to see it in its glory today on our final tour of the season and how fortunate we are to live in such a world ‘seeing beauty everywhere’!

Also seen: harbour seals, stellar sea lions, belted kingfishers, great blue herons, harlequin ducks, pelagic cormorants and gull species.

** There were many humpback whales out there today including Guardian, there was one whale that we have never seen before with distinct white markings across its body and the underside of its tail was also white. We are wanting to download our photo’s from the last 7-10 days and hope to have one of this whale to forward for identification to Jackie and Christie as soon as we can. The photo’s posted today were taken by our iphone.

Todays penned comments: “The sun was shinning, sea calm and what a morning! Fantastic trip with humpbacks all around, so much enthusiasm and knowledge.” Angela, London, UK

“A beautiful day with some beautiful whales. Enjoyed the porpoise, the sea lions, seals and sooty’s too!” Gary, Guernsey

Humpback Whales circling around to feed and phenomenal bird activity!

IMG_1233 IMG_1229 IMG_1228 IMG_1216 IMG_1214 IMG_1210 IMG_1204 IMG_1201 IMG_1196 IMG_1190 IMG_1178It was a day of ever-changing weather conditions that began with rain and heavy cloud cover turning to gusting NW winds followed by more rain. There were clearing patches in the sky with no rain and dull grey waters turning unbelievably, to a sky of streaky blues and pinks and finally sunshine that felt warming and wonderful upon us as we made our way home on calm blue waters under a beautiful blue sky!

In the beginning, in Weynton Passage we counted some five humpback whales, three who were working alongside one another, surfacing and diving simultaneously, all the while brown clouds of sooty shearwaters circled around and as we watched they plunged into the ocean alongside common murres, a small number of rhinoceros auklets and the humpback whales! It was fantastic to see them in this manner, a feeding frenzy that lasted until the whales began to disperse when their food source had been devoured and they began to spread out over a wide area in Weynton Passage and beyond where blow after blow and disappearing fluke could be seen, for there were several more whales sighted covering a wide area, even back at the Stephensen Islands one was seen when we were heading home!

At one moment in a lull that followed the gusting wind and rain, a small sparrow, we think it was a Savannah Sparrow, in the brief moment that we had to view it but not photograph, it landed on a stay on our boat to rest before flying towards Weynton Island. It was a magical moment glimpsed today among so many others, with a beautiful light spreading across the water and the snowcapped Coast Range Mountains with a glacier peeping suddenly through the clouds and where black oystercatchers and pelagic cormorants were glimpsed sitting on a rocky outcrop!

The tranquil island waterways of the Plumper Islands did not disappoint us for they were vibrant and beautiful today. Migrating bird species flying high and ribbons of migrating Canada Geese passing overhead as we made our way back to Alert Bay was a wonderful finale to our day and while the weather was wild early on in our tour, it gave to us so much more. Beauty that was beyond belief at times, it was definitely, ‘nature’s magic’ at its best!

Also seen: red-necked phalaropes, harbour seals, stellar sea lions, bald eagles, great blue herons, belted kingfishers and gull species.

** The iphone was not quick enough for the humpback whales today, with their tail lobbing and distant breaching, not even our 400 mm lens/camera (of which we are still awaiting a part for) was quick enough for that!

Today’s penned comments: ‘Great trip! Their love and enthusiasm for the whales is contagious!” Sande & Mike, Florida

“Excellent excursion. Very informative. Scones delicious. Many thanks.” Jan & Ken, Orkney Islands, Scotland

“Dave & Maureen, Thank you for a great experience on your sailing ship. A first for us. It was great to see the whales in their natural environment. Best wishes” Eileen, Brian & Caroline, UK

And the rain it fell today with Humpback Whales circling all around ~ it was fantastic!

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How wonderful was our day despite the rain that was falling on and off throughout the tour for there were humpback whales everywhere! Three of them were sighted early on in our tour, one was in Cormorant Channel and the other two were in Weynton Passage, one of them was Guardian, the other Domino! We watched as Guardian and Domino made their way in waters on the south side of the Plumper Islands where a number of diving birds and gulls had gathered. Guardian made her way alongside a kelp forest close into the shoreline and it was fascinating to watch her loll about in the kelp, rising up with kelp draped across her back, she indeed looked like the shoreline and well camouflaged at that!

Cruising through a waterway of the Plumper Islands and out into Blackfish Sound we could see at least five more humpback whales who were working the area, some moving away and some moving towards us as they circled around. It was absolutely beautiful watching all the birds together with the whales feeding alongside one another. The sooty shearwaters were flying about and plunging feet first into the water amongst the common murres and rhinoceros auklets, all of them feeding from below the water on the herring that when panicked, gathered together for safety forming bait balls. The whales would soon arrive and feed while gulls hovered above, waiting for the small fish to be pushed up to the surface (by the feeding birds from below) for them to snatch at and feed upon!

The very habit of our watching the whales and birds was mesmerizing and one was scarcely aware of the falling rain. The lighting was at times surreal, as a soft golden glow upon the water it fell, accentuating the magnificent beauty of the area, captivating all of us and leaving us feeling very much alive and grateful. As the world grows ‘more madder’ by the day, moments like those shared on board the S.V Tuan today, gave to all of us ‘some peace of mind’ and memories for our guests to revisit time and again whenever they need!

Also seen: dall’s porpoises, harbour seals, stellar sea lions, red-necked phalaropes, great blue herons, bald eagles, pelagic cormorants, ribbons of birds migrating south (species unidentified) and gull species.

**We have still to download photo’s from our camera, but today, our iphoto’s will suffice as after-all,’ it was and is’ the feeling that matters most and today, it was sheer bliss for all of us!

Today’s penned comments: “Thank you for the beautiful tour. We saw lots of humpbacks – just lovely.”  Andrea & Yolanda, Switzerland.

“FAN-TAS-TIC!” Sijin & Simone, Belgium

“What a great way to spend a rainy Saturday morning! More than just a tour, thanks!” Carl & Sonja, Belgium

Relaxed viewing of 12 Humpback Whales, intrigue and excitement while viewing Bigg’s (Transient) Orcas!

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Our tour today was a truly awesome one that took the viewing of wildlife in our area to a level of great excitement and intrigue. We began our morning at the top end of Johnstone Strait viewing a large gathering of gulls feeding on a herring/ bait ball while a humpback whale blow was seen near Weynton Island. We lost track of that whale but saw two more feeding in Weynton Passage, one making its way towards Cormorant Channel and then there were two more whales including ‘Guardian’ feeding nearby us. As Guardian made her way towards the ebbing current flowing by Stubbs Island where hundreds of birds were feeding we started down Blackfish Sound where there were five more humpback whales feeding, all were spread out, from Bold Head down to Parsons Light. It was fabulous seeing them all, as well the sooty shearwater birds seen plunging into the water and flying across it in their unmistakable flight pattern, common murres were also actively feeding and some rhinoceros auklets as well while small flocks of red-necked phalaropes were seen in flight, skimming just inches above the water!

There were numerous stellar sea-lions, some hauled out but many more were seen swimming along the shorelines and when it was reported that three orca’s had been sighted travelling west in Johnstone Strait from the Boat Bay Light we headed towards Blackney Passage in perfect timing to see them, as well, there were two more humpback whales feeding in Blackney Passage! At the same time, we could see a small group of dall’s porpoises who arrived and were swimming at the bow of our boat briefly before speeding towards the bottom of Hanson Island in Johnstone Strait. The orcas had surfaced just once having taken a long dive, and then as the porpoises sped off, the orcas for a short while looked to be amongst some of them but the orcas then turned and headed back into Blackney Passage travelling alongside the shoreline of Little Hanson Island arriving at the point where we had earlier seen stellar sea-lions swimming in the water. One of the orcas lunged out of the water and we saw a sea-lion surface and quickly make its way towards the other sea-lions and shoreline. When the orcas surfaced again, we could see that they had joined together and were travelling/ resting in the ebbing current in Blackfish Sound, synchronized in their surfacing and diving sequence. We identified the orcas as the T46C’s and this was later confirmed by Jared (DFO). The Matriarch T046C (21 years) and her two off-spring T046C1 (9 years) & T046C2 (6 years) were in the area two days ago on September 15, 2015.

It was a day we all so enjoyed! It was exhilarating with so much marine and bird activity nearby to keep us fully engaged and in the moment! The scenery was beautiful where the cloud formations and colours on the water and in the sky were stunning! The kelp forests with a great blue heron rafted on and feeding, sparkled in the sunlight and the Coast Range Mountains across the waters of George Passage, although they were partially cloud-capped today, added much to the beauty we all so enjoyed!

*The photo’s today were taken by our iphone and show the scenic beauty and beautiful colours of the sky and sea but the orca and humpback whale photo’s are on our larger camera that we have been having trouble downloading!

Today’s penned comments: “Wonderful tour. Perfect, personal attention. You have to sail on today’s wind, the wind of yesterday is already gone. You don’t know if there is wind tomorrow, you have to sail on todays wind.” Martin & Gemma, Netherlands.

“Dave & Maureen, Thank you for an awesome day with a lot of memories! An International trip four sure! Gilakisla.”       Pearl & Mike, Alert Bay, BC

“Dave & Maureen, Thank you very much for this terrific experience!!! We had a great time onboard and we’ll definitely spread the word. Thank you very much! See you next time!” Frank & Astrid, Germany

“Thank you both once again for a wonderful day. Great weather, lots of whales and delicious muffins and scones. This is our second time we have taken this tour.” Helen & Rob, Coquitlam, BC

“Maureen & Dave, Thanks so much for a fantastic day with delicious food and great whale sightings!” P & P, Switzerland

“Thank you for the experience, it was our first time on a boat like this and we loved it! We saw everything we wanted: humpback whales, orcas, sea lions and porpoises! We even saw an otter! Wonderful day! ” Pauline & Cedric, France