Saturday, October 3, 2015 – MV Lukwa – Last Day!!

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Amazing morning and afternoon for our last day! Humpbacks travelling in triples! There were three occurrences of three humpbacks travelling together. In the morning the air was still and all three blows from the first group of three hung in the air; it was Merge, Argonaut and Ripple. They all fluked, Ripple breached, and then breached again and tail lobbed a few times. The second group of three was Pultney travelling with 2 “new” Humpbacks (never seen before in this area, as confirmed by the marine education and research society!) Exciting news! The final trio of humpbacks appeared during the afternoon; it was Domino, Slits and Freckles moving along together and fluking.

In the morning we were also fortunate enough to see three families of Fish-eating Orcas. All three families were part of the G-Clan: G16, G22 and G31 matrilines. They were by the Enfolds and quite spread out. We got to witness some juveniles playing with salmon at the surface and were even lucky enough to hear some vocals! A wonderful addition to a calm morning.

We also got to see Pacific Harbour Seals and Steller Sea Lions hauled out, showing just how big sea lions really are. There were lots of different birds soaring overhead as well. And to top it all off, we got to show off this wonderful area and these spectacles to a high-school group from Langley!

It’s hard to believe that the season is over, but it has been a pleasure to see so many people from so many different places and share each great trip. We here at Stubbs hope that everyone has a pleasant winter, wherever you may be, and we look forwards to seeing you next year for the 2016 season!!

Individuals Identified
Fish-Eating Orca (Northern Residents): G15, G31 and G22 Matrilines
Humpback Whales: Merge, Argonaut, Ripple, Pultney, Domino, Freckles, Slits, Ojos Blancos, Quartz, and two Unknown Whales.

Other Wildlife Included:
Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals, and Dall’s Porpoises
Pelagic Cormorants, Western Grebes, Sooty Shearwaters, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Belted Kingfishers, Surf Scoters, Black Scoters, and White-winged Scoters.
Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day:
The 2015 season for whale watching here in historic Telegraph Cove comes to a close after a fabulous summer of Whales! And Weather! Cap’n Wayne wishes to thank visitors from NEAR and FAR and NEXT YEAR??
“The future is the shape of things to come.” – H.G. Wells

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Friday, October 2, 2015 – MV Lukwa

Photo credit: Jackie Hildering. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jackie Hildering. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jackie Hildering. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jackie Hildering.

Photo credit: Jackie Hildering. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jackie Hildering.

Photo credit: Jackie Hildering.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie.

Blustery and beautiful! Today, we had gusts of wind which added to the adventure AND the activity. Some Humpbacks seem to be especially acrobatic when it’s windy. The waves moving over them appears to be a trigger. Such was the case with Conger this morning, he/she breached again, and again, and again in amongst the waves. It was spectacular to witness and we were so glad that this happened while local school children from Fort Rupert Elementary were aboard. We also watched Conger’s huge pectoral fins slap the surface of the water. Guardian the Humpback was also active in the waves, tail slapping while Cutter was very near.
The blustery bliss continued into the afternoon. This time it was Ridge the Humpback Whale who was so active. Ridge slapped his/her tail on the water several times in the sheltered waters of Blackney Pass before moving into a more blustery section of water and breaching completely out of the water! Having previously only observed Ridge’s back and dorsal fin, guests now fully understood how large Humpback Whales really are. Huge splashes could be seen across Blackfish Sound all afternoon as Humpbacks continued to leap out of water. Humpback Whale ballet, it really is the best!
Among the waves, we spotted some taller, blacker dorsal fins. Some of the fish-eating orcas had returned! Although the Chinook Salmon have now run up the rivers, this group of Orcas has likely returned to the area to feed on Chum Salmon. Chinook Salmon is the preferred prey of these Orcas, but Chum Salmon is also an important part of the Orca’s diet at certain times of the year. These Orcas were also very active in the waves. They surfed, charged and pushed one another around, while constantly changing directions. As exciting as these Orcas were, some guests chose to watch the Humpback Whale lunge feeding frenzy taking place on the other side of the boat. If only we could have torn ourselves in two, there was just so much going on.
It really was just that kind of day: wild, windy and wonderful!!

Individuals Identified
Fish-Eating Orca (Northern Residents): G15 and G22 Matrilines
Humpback Whales: Guardian, Conger, Domino, Cutter, Ridge, Freckles and Frosty.

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day
“All things come to him who waits, provided he knows what he is waiting for” -Woodrow Wilson
Other Wildlife Included:
Steller Sea Lions and Pacific Harbour Seals
Pelagic Cormorants, Western Grebes, Sooty Shearwaters, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, and White-winged Scoters.
Next Available Tours:
Saturday October 3 @ 1:00 pm

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Thursday, October 1, 2015 – MV Lukwa

Photo credit: Johanna Ferrie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Johanna Ferrie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Johanna Ferrie.

Photo credit: Johanna Ferrie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Johanna Ferrie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Johanna Ferrie.

Photo credit: Johanna Ferrie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Johanna Ferrie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Johanna Ferrie. Taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Today’s trip was one for the birders! We got to witness a rich variety of some of the avian life in this area, starting with a Common Merganser and a Great Blue Heron as we left the Cove.  Common Murres were abundant as we made our way down Johnstone Strait, some displaying breeding plumage and most displaying non-breeding plumage. Different kinds of Seagulls circled overhead and mature Bald-headed Eagles were perched in trees intermittently along Hanson Island. As we moved towards Blackney Pass, Belted Kingfishers darted in front of the boat, landing on branches briefly before flying away. Definitely a challenge to photograph!

Once we entered Blackney Pass, the harsh exhalations of Steller Sea Lions and the blow of a Humpback Whale were audible. Many sea lions were in the water, splashing and interacting with one another. Despite the high tide, quite a few sea lions managed to haul out on the rocks. However, there was lots of growling and one male grabbed another male by his throat! The Humpback Whale that we could hear turned out to be Guardian. She moved quickly towards Cracroft Point where the waters were almost flat calm, a temporary state that would soon be changed into rapids once the tide started ebbing.

As we ventured to Blackfish Sound, more Humpback blows could be seen. We also got a surprise “bird sighting”; there was a Grumman Goose on a barge! Cap’n Wayne eventually explained that it was actually the little plane on the barge, an 8-seater amphibious aircraft. Other “real” birds flew overhead as well, including Pelagic Cormorants, Sooty Shearwaters, and two White-winged Scoters.

Bird activity began to increase as the tide began moving and we saw lots of activity in Weynton Pass. Argonaut the Humpback Whale was feeding in the area, as well as Steller Sea Lions. As we prepared to return to Telegraph Cove, two more big blows caught our attention; two more Humpbacks – Slits and Cutter – were circling. Watching Slits show his tail for a deeper dive was a lovely way to finish off a delightful afternoon.

Individuals Identified:
Humpback Whales: Guardian, Merge, Ripple, Argonaut, Slits, Cutter.

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day:
“Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you DO with what happens to you.”
- Aldous Huxley

Other Wildlife Included:
Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals, and Dall’s Porpoises.
Grumman Goose, Common Merganser, Pelagic Cormorants, Western Grebes, Sooty Shearwaters, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, and White-winged Scoters.

Next Available Tours (only two left!!):
Friday October 2 @ 1:00 pm
Saturday October 3 @ 1:00 pm
Reservations Required
1-800-665-3066
www.stubbs-island.com

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015 – MV Lukwa

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie.

Today was all about Steller Sea Lions and Humpback Whales. As the fog cleared over Blackney Pass the small puffs of Steller Sea Lions dotted the horizon as the larger exhalations of Humpback Whales rose in the distance. The flood tide was creating a lot of activity, gathering the food together for the Humpback Whales and pushing the Steller Sea Lions off of their haul-outs and into the water as the tide continued to rise.
Many of the Steller Sea Lions were fishing this afternoon. Our attention was repeatedly drawn to groups of squawking gulls trying to grab a piece of the sea lion’s catch. Feeding sea lions thrash their prey back and forth at the surface to kill it and often consume it mostly whole. It’s often a fast process and the whole commotion can be over within 30 seconds!
From across the water, we could hear a Humpback Whale repeatedly trumpeting. A group of Steller Sea Lions were harassing Argonaut who was forcefully exhaling at the surface. Sea Lions rolled all over and on top of this Humpback Whale as it swam against the current in the direction of more Sea Lions!?
Other Humpback Whales were focussed on feeding. Frosty and Ripple synchronously lunge fed together on one group of schooling fish (likely herring) as they flew out of the whales mouthes. Frosty also briefly trap fed on this same group of fish. Was Frosty trying to wave some of the last fish into his/her mouth?  Five more Humpbacks were feeding mostly at depth in the tide rips. They surfaced all over the pass as we drifted in the current. Captain Wayne summed it up beautifully, saying that this was as close to heaven as he was ever going to get!

Individuals Identified
Humpback Whales: Conger, Frosty, Ripple, Argonaut, Freckles, Quartz, Ridge, Guardian and Domino.

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day
“Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due” William R. Inge

Other Wildlife Included:
Pacific Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions and Dall’s Porpoises.
Sooty Shearwaters, Pelagic Cormorants, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Northern Phalaropes, Pacific Loons, Great Blue Herons, Harlequin Ducks and White-winged Scoters.

Next Available Tours:
Thursday October 1 @ 1:00 pm
Friday October 2 @ 1:00 pm
Saturday October 3 @ 1:00 pm

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015 – MV Lukwa

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Ripple the Humpback Whale trap fed for over 20 minutes this afternoon! We watched in awe as she slowly spun in circles waving small fish into the trap, which was her wide open mouth. Occasionally Ripple’s blowhole would break the surface as she powerfully exhaled at the surface before submerging again. The tip of her rostrum would poke out of the water as she began feeding again, her mouth opening wider and wider still. Looking closely it was even possible to see the small schooling fish (likely herring) that Ripple was waving into her mouth with her pectoral fins. Because the fish were likely spread out, instead of spending energy pursuing her food, Ripple conserved it by remaining stationary and waving the fish into her mouth. Ripple is one of a growing handful of Humpback Whales known by the Marine Education and Research Society (MERS) to utilize this feeding behaviour. It has only been observed by Humpback Whales in the area outside of Telegraph Cove and is always a privilege to witness. To encounter a Humpback Whale trap feeding for such a long period of time is particularly good fortune!
Other activity on the water this afternoon included four more Humpback Whales feeding in the tide rips off of Blackney Pass. Merge and Flash the Humpbacks were traveling tightly together as they rested in Weynton Pass and we watched Argonaut travel through one of our favourite small passes.
Hundreds of Steller Sea Lions were off of OrcaLab again this afternoon, but with the high tide most of them were swimming in the water. Many of these Sea Lions were fishing and some of them could even be seen thrashing around at the surface as they killed and ate their prey.
Flat calm seas and sunshine made for perfect conditions for watching all of today’s activities. We love September!

Individuals Identified
Humpback Whales: Frosty, Ridge, Freckles, Quartz, Ripple, Merge, Flash, Domino and Argonaut.

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day
“Continuity in everything is unpleasant” -Blaise Pascal

Other Wildlife Included:
Pacific Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions and Dall’s Porpoises.
Sooty Shearwaters, Pelagic Cormorants, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Northern Phalaropes, Pacific Loons, Great Blue Herons and White-winged Scoters.

Next Available Tours:
Wednesday September 30 @ 1:00 pm
Thursday October 1 @ 1:00 pm
Friday October 2 @ 1:00 pm

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Monday, September 28, 2015 – MV Lukwa

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Oh wow, what an incredible day!
The morning started off quiet at calm as the fog cleared over the islands. Ridge and Quartz the Humpback Whales traveled together, their exhalations hanging in the still air as they surfaced. Steller Sea Lions were swimming in the waters all around us, and their smaller, more angular exhalations rose against the dark green backdrop of the islands. In the distance, more Humpback Whale exhalations and nearby splashes queued our interest. Conger the Humpback Whale was slapping his/her pectoral fins on the water. Each loud slap repeatedly broke the quiet as this continued for over 10 minutes. Conger then fluked, came half-way out of the water in a head-lob, and then breached! In the distance the splashes of two other breaching Humpback Whales could be seen.
On the horizon we spotted a tornado of birds and four Humpback Whales nearby. Beneath these birds, Corporal and Slits the Humpbacks were feeding with their mouths hung wide open. They were trap feeding! Researchers at the Marine Education and Research Society (MERS) who first documented this behaviour believe that when the schooling fish are more widespread, the Humpbacks in this area have developed a method of using less energy to get their food. Instead of lunge feeding on the fish, they get the fish to come to them by waving them into their open mouth with their pectoral fins and sometimes even their tails! The fish, who mistake the shelter of the Humpback Whale’s mouth as a safe place, are then eaten up and the process starts again.
As many as 20 Dall’s Porpoises including some juveniles were hydroplaning on the surface and creating large rooster tails. Seeing this many Dall’s Porpoises in a group is not unusual, but something that we don’t often see in this area.
This afternoon, Blackney Pass was the place to be if you were a hungry Humpback Whale. At least 7 of these giants were feeding in the area! Racing from one area of juvenile herring to the next, at times there were four Humpbacks traveling tightly together. When these Humpbacks reached the schooling fish, most often it was two at a time as they lunge fed in competition for the food. Frosty the Humpback Whale even trap feed after lunging in one of these groups of schooling fish.
Over 400 Pacific White-sided Dolphins were on a mission as they traveled down Johnstone Strait. As they moved, some even chose to ride on the bow and in the wake. With flat calm seas and dolphins breaking the surface, it was a magical end to a brilliant day!

Individuals Identified:
Humpback Whales: Ridge, Quartz, Conger, Freckles, Moonstar, El Diablo, Ripple, Merge, Slits, Corporal, Argonaut, Domino, Lucky, Guardian and Frosty.

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day
“Minutes are worth more than money! Spend them wisely.” -Thomas P. Murphy

Other Wildlife Included:
Pacific Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions, Pacific White-sided Dolphins and Dall’s Porpoises.
Sooty Shearwaters, Pelagic Cormorants, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Northern Phalaropes, Pacific Loons, Great Blue Herons and White-winged Scoters.

Next Available Tours:
Tuesday September 29 @ 1:00 pm
Wednesday September 30 @ 1:00 pm
Thursday October 1 @ 1:00 pm

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Sunday, September 27, 2015 – MV Lukwa

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Humpback Whales were busy feeding all over Blackfish Sound this afternoon. In every direction groups of gulls flew tightly together above the water, indicating the presence of schooling fish (likely juvenile herring in this area). Not far from each of these groups of birds we could see the exhalations of at least one Humpback Whale, often more. It was hard to follow Quartz, Ridge, Freckles and Guardian the Humpback Whales who darted from one area of food to the next in Blackney Pass. The competition between these four whales was fierce, as these groups of schooling fish are most often consumed by the first whale to arrive. These Humpbacks were often lined up racing towards to gulls and seconds later, one of them would lunge feed at the surface. The bird activity would then shift to a new location and off the whales would go, at great speed in that direction.
Much of the feeding activity this afternoon was aided by the currents caused by the strong flood tide. This pushes the nutrients and food into a concentrated area, where the diving birds condense it further into the groups that we were seeing at the surface.
We could see Humpback Whales competing for this food all across Blackfish Sound, yet the large amount of birds indicating many schooling fish in Weynton Pass had only attracted one whale. Up surfaced Argonaut the Humpback Whale in the middle of all of these birds. He/she wasn’t having to compete with any other whales and slowly lunge fed several times at the surface. Even the Humpback Whales know not to waste any energy if they don’t have to. With no other whales in sight, there was certainly no rush for this Humpback.

Individuals Identified:
Humpback Whales: Guardian, Quartz, Ridge, Freckles, Frosty, Conger, Ripple and Argonaut

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day
“The human mind can bear plenty of reality, but not too much unintermittent gloom” -Margaret Drabble
Other Wildlife Included:
Pacific Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions, and Dall’s Porpoises.
Sooty Shearwaters, Pelagic Cormorants, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Northern Phalaropes, Pacific Loons and Fork-tailed Storm Petrels.

Next Available Tours:
Monday September 28 @  9:00 am & 1:00 pm
Tuesday September 29 @ 1:00 pm
Wednesday September 30 @ 1:00 pm

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Saturday, September 26, 2015 – MV Lukwa

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

It was a gorgeous sunny day on the water and there was life everywhere we looked!
Dall’s porpoises darted at great speed around the islands and briefly came alongside the Lukwa. They were hard to follow, but through the clear water we could see the black and white bodies of these speedy marine mammals. These porpoises also followed Ridge the Humpback Whale, zipping in and out of the water on either side of the whale.
On the rocks and milling in the water just off of OrcaLab were 150 Steller Sea Lions. Those hauled-out were quite vocal, but most were in the water swimming in tight groups. One of these groups held over 60 Sea Lions all exhaling at the surface. You can imagine the warm breath of all these Sea Lions rising in the cool air against the green hued water. Amazing!
Over 15 Humpback Whales cruised the calm waters of Blackfish Sound this afternoon. From a distance, we observed breaches, lunge feeding, and even trap feeding behaviours! KC was back in the area today and traveling with Freckles. KC (aka Kelp Creature) who came to this area with his/her mother as a calf in 2002, returns to the waters of Northern Vancouver Island to feed each year. KC also spends time in the waters around Campbell River so it is good to see him/her back in this area again. Guardian the Humpback was feeding in a very unusual fashion this afternoon. While horizontal at the surface, it appeared that her mouth was open (under the water) and that she was waving food (we could see her pectoral fins occasionally at the surface) into her mouth. She would then raise her closed mouth above the surface. From continued contributions to the Marine Education and Research Society (MERS), we know that Guardian is a known trap feeder. Perhaps this is her new modification of the technique!
Individuals Identified:
Humpback Whales: Ridge, Moonstar, Ripple, Humpless/Slash, Domino, KC, Freckles, Frosty, Conger, Guardian and Quartz.

Other Wildlife Included:
Pacific Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions, and Dall’s Porpoises.
Sooty Shearwaters, Pelagic Cormorants, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Northern Phalaropes, Pacific Loons and Fork-tailed Storm Petrels.

 

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Friday, September 25, 2015 – MV Lukwa

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

The activity on the water this afternoon was mind blowing!
Humpback Whales were everywhere and it was difficult to decide which ones to watch. A concentrated group of gulls signaled the presence of schooling fish (likely herring) and Humpbacks feeding in the area. Conger was in the middle of this activity waving food into his/her wide open mouth with both pectoral fins. This feeding method is being documented by researchers at the Marine Education and Research Society (MERS) and isn’t thought to be seen anywhere else in the world.
As Conger was feeding, a group of over 200 Pacific White-sided Dolphins stormed into the area. Although he/she attempted to continue feeding, soon dolphins were all over Conger and the other two whales in the area, harassing them. Each Humpback Whale took off in a different direction, trumpeting, with dolphins jumping all over them. Gulls continued to fly  over the schooling fish that the Humpbacks had been feeding on, but the Pacific White-sided Dolphins moved in to feed in this area instead. We deployed our hydrophone, floated and listened to the echolocation and high pitched calls of all of these dolphins. Steller Sea Lions even joined in on the feeding activity and were soon also socializing in and amongst these dolphins. Yes, Pacific White-sided Dolphins and Sea Lions also interact. Over 15 of these brown bodied giants were even porpoising out of the water with the dolphins….that is until every dolphin in sight leapt out of the water and lunged together in the opposite direction (a behaviour known as squalling). They continued to travel at great speed tight to the shoreline and out of sight. The Steller Sea Lions, which cannot travel as quickly were left swimming on their own. Dolphins often squall when there are predators around, but there were no mammal-eating Orcas to be seen or heard from.
More feeding gulls and at least three Humpback Whales feeding amongst them couldn’t be ignored. The schooling fish, being chased from underneath by diving birds, were jumping out of the water. It didn’t take long for the Humpback Whales to find them. We watched as these Humpbacks lunge fed out of the water, sometimes even two at a time, consuming the schooling fish.
We could see the exhalations of over 100 Steller Sea Lions at OrcaLab and went to have a look. We found more than just Sea Lions! There were 6 mammal-eating (Bigg’s) Orcas right in front of us. This was why the dolphins had taken off at such speed! We followed the Orcas as they traveled west though Blackfish Sound. They circled a moment and were suddenly charging, pouncing and breaching out of the water! They were targeting a Steller Sea Lion, which we could also see at the surface. This went on for five minutes until they continued on their way. It looks like the Steller Sea Lion won out today, but what an encounter!
Yes, this really did all happen on a three and a half hour tour. This area is amazing!

Individuals Identified:
Minke Whales: Surf
Mammal-eating Orca (Transients / Bigg’s) – T046C and T65B matrilines
Humpback Whales: Cutter, Humpless/Slash, Frosty, Conger, Moonstar, Yahtzee, Domino, Corporal, El Diablo, Crescent and Ripple.

Other Wildlife Included:
A Minke Whale, Pacific Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions, Dall’s Porpoises and Pacific White-sided Dolphins.
Sooty Shearwaters, Surf Scoters, Black Scoters, Pelagic Cormorants, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Northern Phalaropes, Pacific Loons, Great Blue Herons.

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day
“Sometimes I have believed as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast” Lewis Carroll
Captain Wayne adds that “One of them is making it, breakfast!”

Next Available Tours:
Saturday September 26 @ 1:00 pm
Sunday September 27 @ 1:00 pm
Monday September 28 @ 1:00 pm

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Thursday, September 24, 2015 – MV Lukwa

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

There was so much to see on this afternoon’s trip! With flat calm seas and the rain clouds clearing over the mountains, Captain Wayne declared it was a “feast of the eyeballs”!
A Minke Whale was spotted and surfaced several times. These more elusive baleen whales often surface erratically and can be difficult to follow, but today we were fortunate to get a great look at this whale. Minke whales can also be identified individually by their dorsal fins and using the Marine Education and Research Society’s (MERS’s) catalogue of Minke Whales seen in the area (there are only about 8) we were able to identify this one as Surf!
A large group of over 200 Pacific White-sided Dolphins were traveling through Blackfish Sound. We watched as they scooted though the calm water, even leaping out on occasion!
Steller Sea Lions were hauled-out on the rocks at OrcaLab again today. We heard their loud growling as it carried over the water long before we got there! Steller Sea Lions can easily be distinguished from the similar California Sea Lions by their sound; Steller Sea Lions produce a low growling sound whereas the California Sea Lions has a more high pitched bark.
With such calm waters this afternoon, spotting Humpback Whales was almost too easy. The  exhalations of over 15 Humpbacks hung in the air as far as the eye could see. Guardian and Frosty traveled together up through Blackfish Sound and we were very excited to see Humpless/Slash fluke before a deep dive, something that she rarely does.
There really was wildlife everywhere we went today. Near the Steller Sea Lion haul-out this afternoon there were three different species all within a few meters of one another!  A Great Blue Heron fished from the kelp bed while a Steller Sea Lion and a Pacific Harbour Seal swam nearby!

Individuals Identified:

Minke Whales: Surf

Humpback Whales: Cutter, Argonaut, Humpless/Slash, Black Pearl, Freckles, Guardian, Frosty, Conger, Moonstar and Quartz.

Other Wildlife Included: squawking
A Minke Whale, Pacific Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions, Dall’s Porpoises and Pacific White-sided Dolphins.
Sooty Shearwaters, Surf Scoters, Pelagic Cormorants, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Northern Phalaropes, Pacific Loons, Great Blue Herons.

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day
“Peace hath higher tests of manhood than battle ever knew” – John G. Whittier

Next Available Tours:
Friday September 25 @ 1:00 pm
Saturday September 26 @ 1:00 pm
Sunday September 27 @ 1:00 pm

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