‘’Off into the wild blue yonder!’’ were Captain’s Wayne’s words as we sailed out of Telegraph Cove. Glorious sunshine greeted our 36 guests and crew as we basked in the unfolding view and the sunshine. It seemed the Dall’s porpoises were revelling in the sunshine as well. Within minutes of our departure a few were bow riding the boat!
In amongst the Plumper Islands a mature bald eagle was spotted and a harbour seal spied us momentarily before vanishing into the azure blue. We approached a rock face which had a Pigeon Guiilemot sitting in front of its nest. Some of its enough to see its enormous nest beneath it. It transpires that this is the first time in 5 years that this nest has been used by the eagles!
Passing by Stubbs Island we saw some Harbour seals lolling in the sun, some partially submerged with water. A Steller sea lion swam past them momentarily through the kelp and appeared to escape their attention. Passing through Blackfish Sound, at least 2 Humpbacks were seen with snow capped mountains as their backdrop. As one exhaled nearby, the other appeared in the distance. After some time the far away whale was identified as ‘Cutter’. The sightings continued on as shouts of ‘whale’ emanated from every corner of the boat! Another whale appeared in the distance as we sailed ahead.
As we entered the Broughton Archipelago, the distant whale was spotted again. A local researcher by the name of Jared Towers confirmed the whale was actually a Minke! The Minke’s identity was confirmed as ‘Galaxy’. When we thought that we had seen all of the whales to be seen, an Orca appeared! It was confirmed to be a resident or fish eating Orca, the first seen of the season! It was also confirmed to be an Orca which they call ‘Kaikash’. Kaikash and his brother ‘Plumper’ were orphaned some years ago. They were actually ‘adopted’ by a lone female called ‘Scimitar’! She would travel with them and actually feed them fish! Plumper was spotted briefly later near the research boat. With all the excitement of the Orca sightings, a smaller creature was seen afar in the sea. It was realized that it was a sea otter! A creature which is rarely seen in these parts and also the first of its kind seen this season!
The sun continued to blaze as we approached port. A Glaucous Wing gull swooped to skim some smolt from the water surface. The skittish salmon leapt and darted on the water surface in the dazzling light. Coming full circle, a few Dall’s porpoise splashed alongside us as we neared home. So much to see, we had the time, we had the sun, luck and the weather gods were on our side! The wide blue yonder was wild indeed!
An enduring dream to visit Canada and a certain obsession with the creature they call ‘’Blackfish’’ saw me finally here today. We cruised out on the gorgeous Johnstone Strait with the able and affable Captain Wayne. Guiding and commentary were provided by the very knowledgeable naturalist, Kyle. The boss Roger also happened to pop along to take some photos.
First on the menu were a few Dall’s porpoises that whizzed through the sea in front of us. Birds of varying species provided us with some company too. Rhinoceros auklets rested gently on the water surface and rose to fly as we approached. The eagle eyed crew spied a young Pigeon guillemot on a craggy ledge.
On approaching a rocky outcrop, the ‘rocks’ began to stir and roll gently to reveal plump and pretty Pacific harbour seals. Their bodies ranged in hues of dappled cream to grey. The haul out had approx 40 of these shy seals. The breathtaking scenery continued as we headed into Blackfish Sound, home of the fabled orca. More harbour seals were seen lolling contentedly on the rocks. Suddenly word was in that a Leviathan was in our midst! Not one, but two it turned out, two humpback whales breathing on the water surface!! After some movement on the water surface the whales began their deep dives and we were rewarded with photos of their magnificent flukes. This was also a great chance for the crew to photo-id the whales tails (flukes) to pass on to researchers for population estimates.
If this was not enough excitement, word had come in from a local boat that orca were spotted nearby. Shortly after, we began to see some increased activity ahead. Five active orca were throwing some shapes in front of us! The pod consisted of 4 adults and a baby! We were treated for the next 40 minutes to an incredible display of tail lobbing, breaching and spy hopping. Camera batteries and memory cards were exhausted as we were given ample opportunity to witness nature at its best.
Exhilarated and satisfied, we turned to make our return back to port. It turns out the wildlife had other ideas! The Humpbacks reappeared and showed us their magnificent flukes as they descended into their realm. Cruising back happily, we were escorted by more harbour porpoises that bow-rode the boat. On our approach to Telegraph Cove, Roger spotted a black bear on the shore. The hungry bear deftly turned many boulders on the beach in search of food.
We returned to shore full of amazing mental and photographic images. The trip fulfilled my dreams and more. I will be back!
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