Friday July 22, 2016 – MV Lukwa & MV Kuluta

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Another day, another great chance for seeing wildlife in the waters around Telegraph Cove!

We could not believe our eyes, but when the Lukwa started off in the morning, there was almost no fog out at sea, providing us with neat sighting conditions! Throughout the day we had very calm seas, but were able to witness some strong currents, especially in the narrow passages of the Plumper Islands and Weynton Pass, due to a strong tidal change of approximately 4 metres.

Everything pointed to a promising day, which soon turned out to be true: guests onboard the Lukwa and the Kuluta got to see some tremendous wildlife today!

In the morning we were lucky to spot some Humpback Whales in the Plumper Islands. When they showed their flukes, we were able to identify them as Argonaut, Ojos Blancos, Ripple, Slash and her calf! It was exhilarating to watch their bodies break through the surface in these calm waters and to listen to their loud exhalations. The blows were hanging in the morning air, and it took a few seconds until they faded away. Some of the individuals we saw in the morning were sighted in the afternoon again, but we also observed other individuals, such as Inukshuk and Guardian. These two have very white flukes, but still enough differences to distinguish the two.

While we were watching Slash and her calf in the afternoon, we suddenly saw a big splash – one of the whales breached! It soon revealed himself/herself to be Slash’s calf who continued to breach another two times. In-between the breaches the whale surfaced a couple of times and fluked, before he/she propelled his/her body out of the water again. It seemed very surreal when we watched it happen!

It was another fortunate day to watch the Northern Resident Killer Whales in Johnstone Strait. Although there had not been a sighting report in the morning, they were seen a little later on. Excited faces on the boat!
We first spotted them near the rubbing beaches in the Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve from afar. When they left the reserve, we were privileged to watch them traveling west at high speeds of around 8 knots. A male known as Fife (matriline A23s) was leading the group when we first saw them, with the rest of the group following close by.
In the afternoon we were lucky to spot them again, a bit further west this time, as they had moved on in the meantime. We were even able to hear some echolocation via our onboard hydrophone, after Captain Wayne deployed it.

A special moment for our crew today. We have been watching for over a month now as a pair of Bald Eagle chicks grow more and more everyday. Today as we passed by on our tour as we do everyday, guests and crew were able to see the chicks flapping their wings for the first time. We are looking forward to the day when we see them fly from the nest. Super exciting!

What a fabulous day out on the water! A big thanks goes to all our guests from today for showing such a strong interest in wildlife and conservation!

Individuals Identified:

Northern Resident Orca: A23s, A25s

Humpback Whales: Argonaut, Ojos Blancos, Slash and her calf, Ripple, Guardian, Inukshuk

Other Wildlife Included:

Dall’s Porpoise, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Steller Sea Lion, Pacific Harbour Seals, Sea Otter, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets

Captain Wayne’s quote of the day:

“Everyone’s future is a reality uncertain and full of unknown treasures from which all may draw unguessed prizes” – Lord Dunsany

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Thursday July 21, 2016 – MV Lukwa and Mv Kuluta

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Sometimes conditions are not what people consider ideal, but sometimes what we consider inconvenient becomes something positive, that adds to the experience as opposed to taking away from it.

This morning we headed out into the fog as we have the last few mornings. Guests who board the boat on these mornings are often concerned about sighting conditions and understandably so. Sightings can be more challenging in the fog but we frequently still do have sightings and the experience can be almost other worldly as we listen for whales and wildlife before we see them.

There is a beautiful experience to be had in the fog. It creates a feeling of mystery, intrigue and fascination, all feelings that can also be used to describe the experience of watching wildlife in a natural setting. As the morning progressed the fog began to lift and make way for a super sunny afternoon that is so commonly associated with summer.

Guests on board today were lucky to see something we do not get to see on all of our tours, a Sea Otter. He/she surfaced in the fog and was viewable by guests on board for a few moments before he/she drifted back into the fog. Always exciting to see Sea Otters on our tours as their population is recovering after being completely decimated decades ago. Always an uplifting message to they are making a positive recovery.

Today was a spectacular day for people to watch Humpback Whales. In total, we were able to observe and identify seven Humpbacks. Guests were lucky to be able to see a variety of Humpback behaviours from lunge feeding and head lobbing to fluking before diving. So amazing to see these gentle giants active and get a glimpse of their enormous size. More exciting news, if you have been following our blog or any other channel you know how excited we get to announce the return of any whale to this area. Today, we are just as excited as every other time to announce we saw Galaxy (BCXuk2011#3) for the first time this season on one of our tours. We are awaiting confirmation from the Marine Education and Research Society that this is Galaxy’s first sighting in this area and not just on one of our tours.

There were so many exciting Humpback moments today but top of the list had to be an unexpected Head Lob from Ojos Blancos. We had been watching Ojos Blancos and Guardian surface frequently, likely feeding in the strong currents, when all of a sudden you could hear a roar come over the boat and the huge head of a Humpback Whale came catapulting out of the water and then crashing back down.

There were beautiful moments in the small passages of the Plumper Islands today as our naturalists talked about the Bull Kelp and Pacific Harbour Seal heads popped in and out of the kelp beds. Meanwhile, Eagles soared from tree top to tree top. The Eagle chicks are growing stronger, the seal pups are also growing and our experiences out on the water surprise us with something new everyday.

There is a variety of people who join us on our tours, from whale watchers to bird lovers and everything in between. No matter what your reason is to venture to Telegraph Cove, whether you are looking for an escape from the ordinary, a wilderness adventure or because you just feel a need to connect to nature; the biodiversity of this region offers a possibility for it all. Telegraph Cove – “Where the middle of nowhere is somewhere.” and if you ask any of the staff we think it’s somewhere pretty special.


Individuals Identified:
Humpback Whales: Argonaut, Galaxy, Conger, Ridge, Ripple, Guardian, Ojos Blancos
Killer Whales: A42s, A23s, A25s

Other Wildlife Included:
Dall’s Porpoises, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals, Sea Otters, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots and Leach’s Storm Petrel

Captain Geoff’s Quote of the Day:
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. “
– John Burroughs

 

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Wednesday July 20, 2016 – MV Lukwa & MV Kuluta

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Image Credit: Carmen Pendleton. Photo taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Image Credit: Carmen Pendleton. Photo 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: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

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

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

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

After a day like this, where shall we possibly start to describe it?

Both the Kuluta and the Lukwa left Telegraph Cove twice today, full of anticipation to show our guests from around the world what the wildlife here in Northern British Columbia holds! Kicking off in the morning, we were facing fog out in Johnstone Strait, which partially lifted and cleared soon after. It turned into a very nice and bright day, making all four trips very special and memorable!

In total, guests and crew alike were charmed to watch different Humpback Whales today! Among other encounters, we spotted Slash and her calf, who could mainly be observed in close vicinity to each other. Ripple and Guardian were seen together too, and they often surfaced and fluked in synchronization. It was so delightful to watch these two Humpbacks! Ripple was also the first whale we “heard” while out in the foggy morning. When there is hardly any visibility, you may locate whales by their loud exhalations, called blows. 

In addition, one boat was fortunate to spot Nick, a Humpback Whale, who has not been seen very frequently this year. Another individual, known as Conger, was lunge feeding while more Humpbacks showed up in the same area. There was almost too much to look at!

The sightings of Northern Resident Killer Whales have continued. We might not be able to see them on every trip, depending on their location, but they have been observed in this area for more than a week now. 
Today they were spread out far across Johnstone Strait at some point. The behaviour we were able to observe included spyhopping (lifting their heads out of the water), tail slapping, pectoral fin slapping and what seemed to be socializing/playful behaviour when they swiftly drifted through Blackney Passage.

Thanks to the calm sea we could even visually follow the Killer Whales’ movements and exhalations from far away. It was magical to watch them surface in and out of the mist in the morning and when it cleared travelling in lines visible on the horizon. Last but not least, we were listening to their vocalizations via our hydrophone!

When we were slowly cruising through the narrower passages of the surrounding area, Pacific Harbour Seals and Steller Sea Lions were hauled out on rocks or could be spotted in the water, with their heads poking out. Among a startling variety of sea birds one of our guests identified some Oystercatchers as well today!

We need to mention three other marine mammal species before we wrap up todays report: we were lucky to have sightings of a Sea Otter, Pacific White-sided Dolphins and Dall’s Porpoises! The porpoises seemed to be feeding on one occasion and they were again seen right before we turned back into downtown Telegraph Cove. What an unexpected, but miraculous ending to a trip!

Individuals Identified:
Northern Resident Orca: A24s, A42s, A23s, A25s
Humpback Whales: Ripple, Guardian, Slash & calf, Nick, Inukshuk, Argonaut, Conger, one unknown

Other Wildlife Included:
Dall’s Porpoises, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals, Sea Otters, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots, Belted Kingfisher, Oystercatchers and Black-tailed Deer.

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day
“Growth begins when we start to accept our own weakness.”- Jean Vanier

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Tuesday July 19, 2016 – Evening trip on the 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.

How soul southing to spend some hours at the sea before the sun settles down for the night!

We can never determine how a whale watching trip turns out to be – there is no manual, menu or plan for what is going to happen. We believe that it is a gift to go out to sea and we don’t take anything for granted. The same accounts for our evening trips. And as Captain Wayne says: “There are no bad days, but some are better than others.”

We would like to dedicate this blog post solely to our 5.30pm evening whale watching trip from yesterday in order to create an idea of what it could be like to be on the Lukwa in the evenings, sharing wonderful experiences on the water when dusk sets in. What we usually find on our evening trips is a very relaxed and humble atmosphere on the boat. The rush of the day has passed and everybody is in ease to enjoy the last hours of the day on the water, warming their hands on a hot cup of tea.

When Head Naturalist Alison and Captain Wayne welcomed our evening guests on the Lukwa yesterday, we were lucky to have great light conditions and a very calm and gorgeous ocean. We made our way out into Blackfish Sound and were soon fortunate to spot the Northern Resident Killer Whales. These whales were very vocal, which means that we were able to listen to some incredible squeaks and echolocation calls via our onboard hydrophone. We watched them eventually group up, resting in each of their family groups. We could still hear their distant exhalations from afar when we decided to move on.

Continuing towards the White Cliff Islets we managed to spot a Minke Whale! They are one of the smallest species of the baleen whales and usually have a very curved dorsal fin. Researchers at the Marine Education and Research Society (MERS) have documented only a handful of Minke Whales in this area. We don’t get to see Minke Whales very frequently on our tours, but they are most often these same individuals identified by MERS. This Minke Whale surfaced enough times for all guests to get a good look at this cryptic animal.

Further North, we spotted two Humpback Whales, Slash and her calf! They were moving in circles and while Slash lunge fed on sand lance, her calf followed her around. Everyone was feeding on sand lance! The Rhinoceros Auklets had up to ten of these fish draping from their beaks! Such a big feast.

What a peaceful way to end the day.

Individuals Identified:
Northern Resident Orca: A42s, A23s, A25s
Humpback Whales: Slash and her calf

Other Wildlife Included:
Minke Whale, Dall’s Porpoise, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Bald Eagles, Red-necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets and Common Murres

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Tuesday July 19, 2016 – MV Lukwa & MV Kuluta

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

A magnificent, mystical and magical morning enjoyed by all on board. The fog this morning gave an erie and west coast feel to the trip as we ran through the waters of Blackfish Sound and Johnstone Strait following reports of Orca in the area. When we eventually spotted the Orca, Captain Geoff dropped the hydrophone and luckily the group we were observing were vocalizing, which quickly allowed us to identify this group as Transient (Biggs) Orca. These Orca are mammal eaters and have very different vocals when compared to those of Northern Residents.

This is the first time since 2013 that Captain Geoff has heard Transient Orca vocalizing. That is three years of watching these whales without ever hearing a peep. Just a small idea of how different these Orca are in terms of culture when compared to the Northern Residents. Their vocalizations were so haunting and distinct from those who we were listening to yesterday from the residents. Stay tuned to our social media channels, we will be releasing some samples of these recordings in the near future.

On our return from down the strait we were lucky to observe Ripple the Humpback Whale feeding in the tide rips. It was so interesting to watch as she surfaced frequently and was taking very shallow dives. Suddenly gasps of guests were heard throughout the boat as Ripple lunged out of the water in a feeding technique called lunge feeding. A very cool sight to see as Ripple opened her mouth and thrust forward clamping her jaws shut.

The afternoon presented us with typical coastal weather, overcast skies and a chill in the air. This maintained the erie mystical feel of our morning trip but without the fog. As we headed out from Telegraph Cove there were reports that the Northern Resident Orca were still in the area. These reports were of the same family groups we have been seeing for the last three days but today they were joined by the A24s of the A4 Pod. We were lucky to catch up with the last group just before they entered the Robson Bight (Mike Biggs) Ecological Reserve. We watched as the whales traveled through the reserve and caught up with them at the Eastern Boundary. We were lucky to get great looks and strong vocalizations. A special moment for everyone on board.

On our return from the reserve we were lucky to see a Steller Sea Lion who was poking his/her head in and out of the water as it swam by, and then a blow from a Humpback Whale. This was the same Humpback that we saw on our morning trip, Ripple.

Always a fantastic day when guests are able to see both Orca and Humpback Whales on our tours. That being said the highlight and most interesting moment from our day had to be watching the Transient Orca slowly surfacing in the dense fog while we listened to their amazingly distinct vocalizations. Everyday on the water is a good day, no matter whether it is foggy, sunny or rainy. We are often heading back to the Cove with smiling guests who have taken in the marvel of mother nature.

Individuals Identified
Transient (Bigg’s) Orca: T002C
Northern Resident Orca: A24s, A42s, A23s, A25s
Humpback Whales: Ripple

Other Wildlife Included
Unknown Transient (Biggs) Orca Female,  Bald Eagles, Dall’s Porpoise, Red-necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets, Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Common Murres, Steller Sea Lion and Pacific Harbour Seals

Captain Geoff’s Quote of the Day
“Formal education and current position can define your worthiness. What makes you extraordinary is defined by your attitude towards others.” – Ashish Patel

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Monday July 18, 2016 – MV Lukwa & MV Kuluta

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: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. 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.

They say that variety is the spice of life. This area is known to be one of the most biodiverse areas on the entire British Columbia Coast. There are a lot of places you can go to see whales in the wild but not many places offer the diversity of wildlife that this area does or the escape value that you can find here.Today guests were able to see Steller Sea Lions, Eagles, Pacific Harbour Seals, Northern Resident Orcas and Humpback Whales to name a few. A truly spectacular day.

Today the atmosphere was mind blowing. The morning was foggy and had a very mystical feel to it because of the dense fog and limited visibility. Due to the conditions we worked to listen for Humpback blows instead of looking today. It wasn’t long before we were hearing the strong exhalations of these giants of the sea. Despite the visibility limitations Captain Wayne and Head Naturalist Alison were able to get us into a position to see as well as hear. The entire experience had the type of atmosphere you see in the movies. It was very surreal and almost haunting.

On our tour we frequently like to discuss Bull Kelp as we pass through the passages in the Plumper Islands. Bull Kelp under optimal conditions can grow up to 60cms a day and provides up to 70% of the worlds oxygen. It is also home to 750 different fish and invertebrates at some point in their life. Within these kelp beds we typically will see Pacific Harbour Seals poking their heads in and out but today one Seal was laying on top of the kelp literally sleeping on the “kelp bed”.  A pretty cool sight to see.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. 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.

As you have all probably already heard, the Northern Resident Orcas have finally returned to the waters of Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound. How long they will be in the area is always a mystery as nature does not keep a schedule but exciting none the less that the A5 pod (A23s, A42s, A25s) have been in the area for three  consecutive days now. A delight for both guests and staff alike. The social structures and behaviours of these animals is mind blowing. Today guests were privy to witness one of the youngsters breach and listen to some strong vocalizations as the three family groups crossed the border into the Robson Bight (Mike Bigg) Ecological Reserve.

A highlight from today was a group of Dall’s Porpoise who chose to ride the bow of the boat and seemed to appear out of nowhere. With the fog all around us the water was crystal clear as the world’s fastest marine mammal could be seen so clearly below the surface displaying their remarkable speed. At times they broke the surface exhaling and creating rooster tails as they chose to continue along with us. Rooster tails are the splash these animals leave when they break the surface travelling at high speeds.

Guests on board all of our tours today were completely engaged whether they were watching marine wildlife large or small. There was a plethora of sea birds on the water today, everything from Rhinoceros Auklets to larger groups of Red-necked Phalaropes. The area is clearly showing signs that we are well into July. Today’s guests got a true taste of the wild and opportunity to escape the ordinary. Thank you Mother Nature for your ongoing resiliency and kindness.


Individuals Identified

Northern Resident Orca: A5 Pod – A23, A42, A25
Humpback Whales: Ripple, Ridge, Argonaut, Guardian, Conger, Ojos Blancos, Inukshuk

Other Wildlife Included:

Two unidentified Humpback Whales, Steller Sea Lion, Bald Eagles, Dall’s Porpoise, Red-necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets, Pacific Harbour Seals, Common Murres, Belted Kingfisher.

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day

“What we love to do we find time to do.” John L. Spalding

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Sunday July 17, 2016 – MV Lukwa & MV Kuluta

Image Credit: Carmen Pendleton. Photo taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Image Credit: Carmen Pendleton. Photo taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Image Credit: Carmen Pendleton. Photo taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Image Credit: Carmen Pendleton. Photo taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Image Credit: Carmen Pendleton. Photo taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Image Credit: Carmen Pendleton. Photo taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Image Credit: Carmen Pendleton. Photo taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Image Credit: Carmen Pendleton. Photo taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

What a typical day in terms of quick weather changes here in Telegraph Cove! Although we have to admit, that different weather conditions create a uniqueness to every one of our whale watching trips, as it did today!

Leaving on the Lukwa in the morning, we were confronted with a thick layer of fog out on Johnstone Strait. While it may not represent the perfect conditions for photography, it created a very mystical and remarkable atmosphere out on the water. Captain Geoff had received the exciting news that Northern Residents had been heard via OrcaLab’s hydrophones in the area, so he decided to give it a listen and put our hydrophone in the water. What happened next was just indescribable! Although we could barely see anything, we were able to hear that there was indeed plenty of life around us! It was loud and clear: vocalizations of Killer Whales!

After listening for a while, we finally spotted them too, one Killer Whale after the other! It was such a rapture to watch them for a little bit, while their were foraging for fish in the area.

Much to our joy, the fog started to partially clear after a while and the sighting conditions improved! Great encounters followed. We were fortunate to watch the Humpback Whale Argonaut tail lobbing close to the shore. It is mind-blowing to see how powerful these whales are! Before we headed back to Telegraph Cove, we encountered more wildlife in form of Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Dall’s Porpoises, Pacific Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions and a great variety of sea birds! What a great start to the day!

The weather in the afternoon showed a completely different face – we had pure sunshine with just a tiny bit of mist covering some of the mountains! The sea was still very calm. We set Lukwa’s course to the east and headed towards Cracroft Point. In the distance we could already make out the black tall fins of the male Killer Whales, which can get twice as big as the females’ dorsal fin. Captain Geoff put the hydrophone in the water once again, enabling us to enjoy some of the Killer Whale vocalizations!

When we were watching out for Humpback Whales later on, the Killer Whales came up into the same direction. The ocean was still very calm, allowing us to be acoustically surrounded by both Humpback and Killer Whale blows! Heads were swinging around, trying to make out the direction of the blows.

After we had all these fabulous sightings, we made our way slowly back through the narrow passages of the Plumper Islands. What stunning scenery! We took time to look at beautiful Bull Kelp glittering in the sunlit water, hauled out Pacific Harbour Seals and three Steller Sea Lions! Not to forget: we had a glance at one of the Eagle’s nests and were lucky to observe the mother feeding her two chicks. Everybody was holding their breath and kept quiet to not interrupt this mesmerizing moment.

Thanks goes to the unpredictable nature and incredible wildlife in this area!

Individuals identified:
Northern Resident Killer Whales: A23s, A25s, A42s
Humpback Whales: Argonaut, Ridge, Guardian, Inukshuk and two unknown whales

Other Wildlife Included:
Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Dall’s Porpoises, Red-necked Phalaropes, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Marbled Murrelet, Belted Kingfisher, Steller Sea Lions and Pacific Harbour Seals

Captain Geoff’s Quote of the Day

“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.”
– John F. Kennedy

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Saturday July 16, 2016 – MV Lukwa

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Leonie Mahlke. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Looking for the trip of your lifetime? We believe we came pretty close today!

What an exciting, exhilarating and heart pounding morning! It was foggy and misty when we left Telegraph Cove, but that did’t stop us from having an excellent mood on the Lukwa! The reason? Before we started heading out, reports of both Transient and Resident Killer Whales in the area were received. Vocalizations of the Northern Residents (A5s) were recorded by OrcaLab, while they were traveling through Blackfish Sound.

When we came to observe some of the Northern Residents inside the Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve, our boat was staying outside the boundaries of it. Captain Wayne deployed the hydrophone in the water.What an amazing experience of listening to Killer Whale vocalizations! When they had left the Reserve, we were even fortunate to watch a very young Killer Whale breach a few times! By then the fog had cleared, allowing us to enjoy great visibility out on the water.

We did not only have beautiful looks at Killer Whales but also Humpback Whales. An individual known as Ripple breached twice! The term “breach” describes the event of a whale rising and breaking through the surface of the water. You could hear the impressively loud slaps and splashes of the breaches when she hit the water!

Afterwards, Ripple continued to be active at the surface: we observed some tail lobbing and pectoral fin slapping as well!

The afternoon trip started off with some very active Dall’s Porpoises! They are among the fastest marine mammals in the world and can reach a speed of up to 55 km/hr. It was incredible to watch their seemingly effortless and quick movements in the calm waters that were found in the afternoon.

With the previously received news of the Northern Resident Killer Whales still being in the area, we started heading down east, as they were apparently making their way up Johnstone Strait. Once we had spotted them, you could clearly hear some “ooooooh”s and “aaahhhhh”s from the bow of the Lukwa. What an astonishing encounter! Luckily we had some amazing light too, providing great conditions for all photographers on the boat.
Both in the morning and the afternoon we also caught sight of groups of Pacific White-sided Dolphins in close vicinity to the Killer Whales.

While we were watching the Killer Whales, we could make out a Humpback Whale blow in the distance. It turned out to be Ridge – who continued to go on longer dives. One of our guests came up to us and asked if it was the Humpback Whale who has a “heart-shaped” blow, when they exhale at the surface. That is very true, as Baleen Whales have two blow holes on the dorsal side of their bodies. Toothed whales (like the Killer Whale) on the other hand have only one blowhole. The air that is pushed out of two blowholes usually forms a V- or heart-shape. Thanks for the great comparison!

Happy days!

Individuals Identified
Northern Resident Killer Whales: A23s, A25s, A42s
Humpback Whales: Ripple, Ridge

Other Wildlife Included:
Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Dall’s Porpoises, Red-necked Phalaropes, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres and Pacific Harbour Seals

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day

“Deliberation often loses a good chance”
-Latin Proverb

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Friday July 15, 2016 – MV Lukwa & MV Kuluta

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. 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: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo Credit: Jennie Leaver. 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.

Lets start with a moment that really touched the hearts of our crew today. This is the story of a father and daughter who were traveling together from Holland. Growing up the man told us his daughter had always talked about whales. The daughter is a full grown woman now but her father spoke about this trip as the father daughter trip of a lifetime. He said” My daughter always loved whales, so this year I decided to give her this trip to Canada where we would come and see the whales in the wild.” Thank you for selecting us to be part of this very special time for both of you.

We have not had sighting reports of Killer Whales in two days until this afternoon. Shortly after we left the dock this afternoon we received a report from the Marine Education and Research Society’s Jackie Hildering that Transient (Biggs) Orca were just spotted in front of Orca Lab. The Transients were moving very unpredictably and taking deep dives as they often do. That being said guests were still able to get a good look as they slowed down and lessened their dive time. It was wonderful to see them surfacing and at one point approach a known seal haul out. We do not think the Orca made a kill as they changed direction at the last minute but the moments of anticipation before hand were pretty intense.

In addition to great views of Killer Whales guests today were also able to take in some spectacular Humpback behaviours. We saw six Humpback Whales in total today and our naturalists were able to identify four of them. Our favourite Humpback moment from today had to be watching Ripple the Humpback Whale as she was trap feeding. Humpback Whales are huge and when they surface with their giant mouths wide open and hang there collecting fish, it is something you never forget.

In addition to the whales we had a unique moment watching a Pacific Harbour Seal. We normally see harbour seals either resting on rocks or swimming in the water with their noses poking out. Today however, we were able to watch one with a salmon in its mouth and a pretty big salmon at that. Captain Geoff was able to see with his binoculars that this salmon was a pink salmon. We know Pacific Habour Seals do eat fish, but we do not commonly see them like we did that one today.

The moment that took the highlight for our crew today happened on our morning trip but could have easily happened at any time of day. Mother Nature does not keep a schedule or wear a watch. As we made our way through one of the popular passes there was a large amount of bird activity. There were Red-necked Phalaropes everywhere as well as Rhinoceros Auklets. While guests were getting a good look at these birds, Ripple and Ridge, both Humpback Whales started surfacing amongst the birds. There was also Pacific White-Sided Dolphins and Dall’s Porpoise everywhere we looked. Based on the amount of wildlife in close proximity our on board Naturalist believes every individual was most likely feeding. There was stuff happening all over the place and most of these marine mammals and birds were most likely feeding on Herring just below the surface.

There was so much going on today that we were lucky to see, Mother Nature was very kind to us. Thank you to the two girls from Switzerland who gave us their drawings from the trip, they are on our fridge in the staff house as we write this. Also, thank you to everyone who traveled from near and far to join us on the water today. This area is very special to us and many others as well. It means something to be able to share it with each and everyone of you.
Individuals Identified

Transient Killer Whales: T60’s
Humpback Whales: Ripple, Ridge, Argonaut and Inukshuk.

Other Wildlife Included:
Two unidentified Humpback Whales, Steller Sea Lion, Bald Eagles, Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, Dall’s Porpoise, Red-necked Phalaropes, Rhinoceros Auklets, Pacific Harbour Seals, Common Murres, Belted Kingfisher.

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

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Thursday July 14, 2016 – MV Lukwa and MV Kuluta

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

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

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

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

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

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

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

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

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

DSC_0456

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver

There are no bad days on the waters around Johnstone Strait. This morning and afternoon were both beautiful in their own ways. In the morning the sun was trying to break through the clouds and was sparkling off the water. By the time we left the dock later on for our 1pm tour the clouds had cleared and the sun was beaming down from the sky above.

Guests were able to get a good look at a Humpback Whales today on all of our tours. Our on board naturalists Johanna, Carmen and Alison worked to identify all the whales we saw today so guests would know who they were watching. Thanks to the research done by the Marine Education and Research Society we are able to identify individuals by both tail and dorsal fin photographs. Today our fantastic team was able to identify Argonaut, Guardian, Quartz, Ripple, Ridge, Moonstar and Ojos Blancos (White Eyes in Spanish). Thanks ladies!

Sploosh, Splash, Splish and Smack. The variety of sounds two Humpback Whales made today as they actively broke the surface of the ocean. Guests were very excited as we approached the whales as the large splashes from their activity were evident from far away. Ripple and Ridge were both tail lobbing, giving guests a great view of how big these giants of the ocean really are. Moments after the tail lobbing ceased Ripple and Ridge both breached just seconds apart. There are no words to describe how incredible this was.

In one of the many active Eagle’s nests that we have in this region we were able to watch as a mother Bald Eagle fed her two chicks in the nest. We were unable to discern what mom was feeding them but it was amazing to watch non the less.

Speaking of birds, there was a whirlwig of Red-necked Phalaropes on the water today. A whirlwig is the actual technical term for large groups of this specific bird. It is such a great word we could not avoid using it in today’s post. There was also a lot of bird activity on our afternoon trip as guests on both the Lukwa and Kuluta watched as Sea Gulls plucked small fish, most likely juvenile herring, from the surface of the ocean. You could see some gulls flying away with over five fish in their beak at certain points during the feeding.

As we cruised through some of the small passes on our trips, we were lucky to also be able to see a lot of Pacific Harbour Seals. Twice today guests on board were able to see a mom and pup pair. Always a special moment to take in.

The beauty of Mother Nature is something that can only be experienced, words can only do it so much justice. Needless to say it is a humbling experience to see the majestic Humpback Whales breaching from the water, Seal pups nursing on their mom and Bald Eagle chicks growing bigger every time we see them.  It really is a magnificent and fascinating world that we live in.

Individuals Identified

Humpback Whales: Guardian, Argonaut, Ojos Blancos, Ripple, Ridge, Quartz, Moonstar

Other Wildlife Included:

Dall’s Porpoise, Pacific Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lion, Rhinoceros Auklets,

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day

“No wind serves him who addresses his voyage to no certain port” – Michel de Montaigne

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