Wonderful day sailing with Orcas: A8’s, Humpback Whales lunge feeding & breaching++ and a Minke Whale!

IMG_8401 IMG_8402 IMG_8447 IMG_8449 IMG_8451 IMG_8459 IMG_8608 IMG_8609 IMG_8610 IMG_8611 IMG_8612 We enjoyed an amazing day of viewing Orcas, Humpback Whales++ and a Minke Whale with unbelievable sightings! What a day of contrast and colour, of quiet foraging of Orcas and then amazing lunge feeding and airborne acrobatics by Humpback Whales. Our tour this morning took us first into Weynton Passage where we enjoyed viewing Humpback Whales, it was reported that there were eight in the vicinity but with the sudden sighting of a large male Orca fin out in the Queen Charlotte Strait, we headed in that direction and met up with the A8’s who were foraging initially off Bold Head but moving steadily west, they were taking long dives and were soon off Bold Head and still heading west and a small group of Dolphins were seen amongst them. Their A-Clan vocalizations were beautiful to listen to, all the while we trailed our hydrophone while sailing quietly along.  While the A30’s began making their way into Blackfish Sound from Blackney Passage where they had been foraging in a heavy flooding current with SE winds, we made our way back into Weynton Passage to better enjoy the Humpback Whales. We enjoyed some fabulous viewing of a whale lunge feeding through a herring ball with gulls galore also trying to feed from the herring ball, there were some six more whales sighted close by and everywhere it seemed throughout our tour, the blows of numerous humpback whales could be seen near and far; it was absolutely phenomenal to watch them. We began heading home with a Dall’s Porpoise riding alongside us briefly when suddenly in Pearse Passage we sighted the distinct fin of a Minke Whale surfacing nearby, identifying it as being Bolt, the same Minke Whale that we had seen in recent days and then remarkably the blow of yet another Humpback Whale was sighted just as the Minke Whale resurfaced, the dilemma then was where best to look and from which side of the boat? And so began the fabulous viewing of a whale breaching time and again into the wind, it was mesmerizing to watch as the whale breached clear out of the water while at times we observed it waving its pectoral fins high, it was a brilliant finale to an amazing tour! Also seen: Dall’s Porpoises, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Harbour Seals, Stellar Sea Lions, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Great Blue Herons, Belted Kingfishers, California, Mew, Herring and Glaucous-winged Gulls.

Brilliant day of whale watching

humpback calf

humpback calf

At the beginning of our tour the A5’s (A23’s/A25’s) who had been foraging in the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve around 6.30 a.m. this morning had since headed east and could not be seen by Marie up on the Cliff opposite to the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve. It was at Blakney Passage with still no reports of the A5’s being sighted to the east that we turned into the Passage at Little

Common Murre

Common Murre

Hanson Island and then into Blackfish Sound. The day had begun as a cool one with low cloud and mist forming into a fog bank lying low over the water in the middle of Blackfish Sound but as we made our way up to the top end of the Sound, the sky was clear and the sun warm and inviting! Prior to reaching the top end there were several humpback whales reported to be feeding in the area some of whom were taking long dives. We enjoyed viewing a mother and her calf initially and then further over two other whales, both of whom were taking long dives, one was very active and could be seen

eagles, gulls and  rhinoceros auklets feeding on a herring ball

eagles, gulls and rhinoceros auklets feeding on a herring ball

moving quickly through the water where gulls and auklets were also feeding intently. Up near Stubbs Island another humpback whale that was sighted in the distance making its way out into the Queen Charlotte Strait against the flooding current suddenly surfaced behind us. It was exciting when again it surprised us surfacing near the bow of the boat where the viewing was superb! Other species also seen today were: dall’s porpoises, harbour seals, bald eagles in a nest and fishing low over a herring ball, rhinoceros auklets+++ common murres, herring and glaucous-winged gulls and two great blue herons. On our way home, shortly after departing from Alder Bay a minke whale was sighted nearby much to the delight of those remaining passengers on board; it was a fabulous ending to the day.

Minke and humpback whales on tour today!

Minke whale: eclipse

Minke whale: eclipse

 

Smiles all round!

Smiles all round!

Eclipse

Eclipse

It constantly amazes us, each day so different from any other, our tours have been remarkable with so much action especially when viewing humpback whales, the images fill our minds and fully awaken our

Humpback Whale: Black Pearl

Humpback Whale: Black Pearl

Black Pearl

Black Pearl

senses! Leaving the dock this morning a stiff SE wind was blowing with strong gusts at times and we departed from Alder Bay with our staysail up; it was a grey day and the whitecaps were whipped up all across and down Johnstone Strait. We entered calm waters through Pearse Passage and  Weynton Passage and as we neared the Plumper Islands, a dorsal fin was suddenly spotted surfacing through the water that we could in the next moment see that it was a minke whale. Passengers on board enjoyed some wonderful viewing of the whale, nearby at times when it resurfaced after a dive, enabling us to clearly see the elongated head when it surfaced and from our photo’s it was later identified by Christie as being ‘Eclipse’, one of the resident minke whales that returns to feed in the area each summer. We carried on our way towards Blackfish Sound and scanning up and down the Sound, there were no sightings of any cetaceans when suddenly a blow followed by the typical disappearing back of a humpback whale was sighted near Bold Head. It was several minutes before a blow was seen again and while we made our way in that direction, the sea state had picked up and some wind gusts were felt. A blow could be seen well off in the distance out towards the Foster Islands in the Queen Charlotte Strait and then finally after several more minutes the fluke of a humpback whale was seen some 250-300 hundred meters off our starboard side, disappearing. Meanwhile a large blow was seen, the whale heading further west but more towards Malcolm Island, a second humpback whale for sure or possibly a third?  We turned our attention to the whale off our starboard side and enjoyed viewing its dive sequence which throughout our viewing time, with everyone counting the blows it was taking 12 breathes between dives, one count 13 breathes with dives of mostly 6 minutes, one dive sequence of 5 minutes. As it happened yesterday, to the astonishment of us all, we watched as the whale suddenly began making its way towards our boat, getting closer with each surfacing and suddenly it passed in front crossing our bow with amazing speed, the viewing was superb and the images clearly imprinted in all of our minds. This whale was the same humpback whale as we had go by the bow of the boat yesterday and was identified again thanks to Christie as being ‘Black Pearl’. Throughout our viewing time in Black Sound, with the wind blowing we had our staysail up and the ride was comfortable and exhilarating. Our return home was via the Plumper and Pearse Islands where passengers enjoyed their Devonshire Tea’s. Other species sighted today were dall’s porpoises, harbour seals and increasing numbers of rhinoceros auklets.