Friday June 24, 2016 – MV Lukwa and MV Kuluta

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Carmen Pendleton. 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.

Calf and Adult Humpback breaches, dolphins for miles, plenty of eagles and Humpbacks surfacing in multiple directions, today was a trip for the books. As Captain Wayne likes to say, “there are no bad trips but some are better than others” and today was better than most. The water was calm in spots and the tide was ripping in others, on both our morning and afternoon tours!

Today made history as a first for Captain Wayne after 20 years at Stubbs Island Whale Watching. On the afternoon tour he said, “I have never seen a pod of dolphins as large as we saw today this early in season.” It was a moment to take your breath away as we came across a pod of approximately 1000 Pacific White-Sided Dolphins spread out over 2 to 3 kilometres. They were seen swimming on both sides, the front and back of the boat as well as in the distance. The pod was swimming swiftly, as some dolphins jumped from the water and a select few were seen leaping high out of the water and splashing down on their sides. It’s fair to say words can not do justice to an experience like that.

There was also a very special moment with smaller marine mammals on our morning trip as the Lukwa sat with engines off in the tide rip. The boat was rotating with the strong current as two Dall’s Porpoise continued to circle the boat giving guests a chance to see the distinct triangular white dorsal fin that make them identifiable from Harbour Porpoises and dolphins.

Happy news! We are excited to report we once again saw the Humpback Whale known as Slash and her calf. Mom and calf were seen swimming in the tide rips along with Ripple another known female Humpback. There were moments where Slash and her calf were seen swimming and diving together and other moments where they were seen swimming in very close proximity to Ripple. Sometimes guests were struggling to chose a direction to look as Slash and her calf were surfacing on opposite sides of the boat to Ripple.

Both morning and afternoon guests were lucky to see the spectacular sight of a breaching Humpback Whale! On the morning trip, an adult Humpback known as Ojos Blancos was seen leaping from the water, leaving a large splash in his/her wake. Later on in the day as afternoon visitors were observing the mom/calf pair, Slash’s calf spontaneously breached. Following the breach the calf returned to swimming with mom who was never to far away. It was very energetic with all three whales swimming in the tide rip sometimes on opposite sides of the boat and then sometimes coming together. While observing these three whales guests could see two other Humpback blows and flukes in the distance. These whales were identified as Ojos Blancos and Guardian. These two whales along with Ripple were also spotted on our morning tour.

Something we do not see everyday on our tours is a Fawn. On both morning and afternoon tours guests were able to see a Black Tailed Fawn on the beach in one of the passes of the Plumber Islands. In the morning the Fawn was seen feeding on Bull Kelp on the beach. The afternoon deer was also feeding on the rocky shore of the beach but it’s food source could not be determined.

Visitors on all three of today’s tours left energized and smiling ear to ear. With grins and gratitude they departed on the next phase of their west coast adventures. Moments in the wild like the ones we experienced today bring with them an innate sense of wonder and amazement. It’s incredible just how raw and spectacular nature truly is.

Individuals Identified

Humpback Whales: Ripple, Guardian, Ojos Blancos, Slash and calf

Other Wildlife Included

-3 unidentified Humpbacks, Pigeon Guillemots, Rhinoceros Auklets, Bald Eagles

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day

“The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker.”

-Helen Keller

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Thursday June 23, 2916 – 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: 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.

Have you ever had that moment where you ask yourself, “does it get better than this?”. With the abundant wildlife, pristine conditions and the unexpected behaviours, today’s tour just kept getting better and better. The water was like glass, the Humpback Whales were active and Pacific White-Side Dolphins were everywhere. We are so lucky to operate in an area that is so rich with wildlife.

Guests and on board crew were privilege to some exciting behaviours today. Approaching a rock cliff that drops deep into the ocean we spotted the Humpback Whale known as Ripple. She was seen swimming very close to the wall and we could not figure out her behaviour when she unexpectedly lunged through the water. Our on board naturalist suspected that Ripple was gathering fish against the wall using her tail and pectoral flippers and then lungeing through the coral to gather as many fish as she could into her mouth. “Pretty cool!”, “Amazing” and “I have never seen that before”, were some of the exclamations heard from guests and crew. This is more evidence that we are always learning something new about the feeding methods of Humpback Whales.

Mother nature was kind to us today. A small pod of active Pacific White-Sided Dolphins were seen swimming in the direction of two humpbacks known as Quartz and Guardian. As the dolphins continued to swim directly at the whales a close encounter between the two species seemed imminent. As the giant Humpback Whale fluked a dolphin could be seen jumping from the water right in front of the whale. It was easy to see the remarkable size differences between the two when this happened.

The one thing we continue to learn about operating in the wild is to “expect the unexpected”. On our return to Telegraph Cove we were coming down Johnstone Strait when Captain Wayne noticed more dolphins. This pod was much larger than the small group we previously saw but they were also very active. Guests were able to see them swimming swiftly, jumping from the water and at times choosing to ride in the wake left by the boat. A guest on board was heard saying, “this is the best yet.”

Seeing wildlife in the wild can be a pretty incredible experience as we never know what will happen from moment to moment. We take great pride and joy in being able to share this natural beauty with guests from across the globe. Thank you for joining us and we hope your experience today was both humbling and inspiring.

Individuals Identified

Humpback Whales: Ojos Blancos, Quartz, Guardian and Ripple

Other Wildlife Included:

– Bald Eagles, Dall’s Porpoise, Pacific Harbour Seals, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots.

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day

“Hope is an adventure, a going forward, a confident search for a rewarding life.” – Dr. Karl Menninger

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Explore Program with Georges P. Vanier Secondary School – June 6 to June 9

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver

For the last sixteen years in early June, the  boardwalk at Telegraph Cove fills with teenagers. These young adults  are preparing to embark on a four-day excursion into the wilderness where they will camp on a nearby island, as part of an integrated outdoor education program called Explore. They will live in tents, cooking and fending for themselves, while applying classroom projects to what they will encounter while they are there. 

Explore is facilitated by Georges P. Vanier Secondary School in Courtenay and is open to students from all three high schools in the Comox Valley. Students go through an application process and must be able to maintain their academic studies throughout the year. The group goes on three to four excursions over the semester, ending their season every year in the waters around Johnstone Strait.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver

Stubbs Island Whale Watching has worked with this group from the beginning to help ensure the trips success by providing three main services. On day one, we transport all students, teachers and their gear to the nearby island where they will live for the next four  days. On day two, we pick them up early in the morning for a full day on our boats. While on board they will observe local wildlife and attend on board education sessions with local researcher and longtime Stubbs naturalist Jackie Hildering. On the fourth  and final day of their trip, we return to pick them up at their camp, help them load their gear and equipment onto our boats and transport them back to Telegraph Cove.

This year the group arrived on Monday, June 6 at about 12:30 pm. They carried packs, water, cooking stoves, kayaks and were full of energy and anticipation about the adventure ahead. Our crew helped ensure their safety and proper packing of gear as the forty-seven teens and six teachers/guides worked cohesively loading both boats. Once the Kuluta and the Lukwa were loaded we departed for Mound Island about 45 mins away.

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

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

We stopped at multiple points along the way to observe Humpback Whales, Dall’s Porpoises and a Steller Sea Lion. As the students had researched many of these animals beforehand, it was exciting for them to be able to observe animals in their natural habitat.

The Lukwa and Kuluta are both large  boats which made dropping them at their beach location slightly challenging. The tide was low and the beach was tucked away into a small bay, so we transported gear and people by inflatable . After we transported the last remaining passengers, we waved good bye for the time being.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver.

When we returned Tuesday morning at 8:00am, the water was calm and the sun was beginning to break the fog, it was an absolutely beautiful morning. At Mound Island the group was waiting on shore, with a quieter vibe than the day before. The quiet did not last long as the group spotted two blows off of Cracroft Island and quickly raised into a state of excitement and curiosity. They hurried from the cabin to the front viewing deck.

The two whales were swimming and surfacing close together. On board naturalist Jackie Hildering identified these whales as Ripple and Quartz. The whales surfaced and fluked many times. Between the whales  surfacing, the students participated in mini educational sessions  as to what they were observing. The energy of the group was further ignited by a group of Dall’s Porpoise who chose to ride on the bow wake of the boat. The kids were inquisitive and keen, continuously asking questions.

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

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

After a morning of wildlife observation, we transported the group to Echo Bay and the  home of Billy Proctor. Billy and his dog Buster greeted us at the dock. At Billy’s the group explored his museum and then had  a relaxing lunch before getting back on the boat.

Billy Proctor spent years as a commercial fisherman and is well known in the community for his knowledge of local waters. His museum is a collection of everything from gems, to old wine bottles that washed ashore. Billy describes everything in his museum as  “artifacts” or “junk” but junk is the opposite of what we saw.  In Proctor Bay, Billy has built a museum of artifacts he has collected along the coast. Nothing is ordered or store bought, everything was found by Billy himself.

Billy tells stories to the group about how he used to travel as a commercial fisherman and made a habit of walking the shore during low tide. During these walks he would pick up different artifacts along the way.  He was happy to share the story about the first artifact he ever found, it was a piece of jade. He found it digging in the garden with his mother when he was young..

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver

The kids toured the museum looking at the finds of Billy’s life travels. They took in stories from well beyond their years and seemed to really relish being there. Billy is a quiet man but was more than willing to answer any question asked and shared stories with many of the kids. At one point I asked Billy, “Do you like all this company?” To which he replied, “I do, I don’t have anything better to do.” Then he chuckled, which appeared to be his way of saying he enjoys it.

As everyone bid Billy goodbye and boarded their respective boat, we began to make our return through the Broughton Archipelago back to Mound Island. On board the group attended an education session lead by Jackie Hildering. This session was structured around marine wildlife behaviours, habitats and threats to those animals and their environments . Students were expected to contribute to the session with research completed prior to the trip. Before we knew it, we were back at Mound Island and everyone was deposited on shore including Jackie who would spend the evening and next day with the group.

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie

On Thursday at 7am we departed Telegraph Cove for Mound Island. The sun was shinning reflecting off the calm and glassy water, we were once again blessed with a beautiful picturesque morning. Shortly out of the cove we encountered a pair of Humpback Whales swimming together. Swimming along with them was a small pod of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins. Identification photos were sent to the Marine Education and Research Society but neither of the flukes were recognized. This means these two whales have most likely not been sighted in this region before.

Photo credit: Roger McDonell. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Roger McDonell. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

We left the humpbacks and dolphins behind and continued on our  mission. We picked up the Explore Group at 8am, transporting them back to the Lukwa and Kuluta for the final time this year.

Arriving in Telegraph Cove at about 10:45am, the students worked together unloading their gear. Part way through the process they picked up the pace in an attempt to beat last years unloading time record. Cheers and clapping were heard while they raced to finish, in the end setting a new time record. It was an energetic end to a four day trip filled with adventure, education and fun. The group was all smiles as they said goodbye.

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver

Photo credit: Jennie Leaver

For the last sixteen years Explore and Stubbs have worked together to make this portion of their program a success. Their visit to Telegraph Cove is something we look forward to at the beginning of each year.

If you are looking to book a private charter or educational excursion like this for your school or group please contact our office. We love working with groups and sharing our passion for the unique waters around Telegraph Cove.

To the Explore group, thank you for another fantastic year. We look forward to seeing you in 2017.

Photo credit: Roger McDonell. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

Photo credit: Roger McDonell. Image taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

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Wednesday June 22, 2016– MV Lukwa

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

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

Photo Credit: Alison Ogilvie.

Photo Credit: Alison Ogilvie.

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.

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 light rain of this afternoon highlighted the deep green trees of the British Columbia rainforest against the pale grey skies. The weather did not deter the hearty guests, and many spent the entire trip outside spotting wildlife.

Some of our guests were lucky enough to glimpse a seal mother and pup as we cruised through a passage between two small islands. While admiring the beautiful scenery guests were pleased to spot the many Bald Eagles perched in the trees and soaring overhead.

A heart-shaped blow just above the ocean’s surface alerted us the presence of Ojos Blancos (White Eyes), the first of five Humpback Whales sighted this afternoon. Conger, another Humpback Whale, amazed the guests on our boat by swimming incredibly close to the shoreline. It is possible for whales in this area to swim so close to the shore because much of the shoreline drops steeply into the ocean below. Guardian and Ripple were seen in the swirling currents off of Cracroft Point. Strong currents lead to nutrient mixing, making this a great feeding area.

The Steller Sea Lions were also feeding, tearing larger fish into smaller pieces at the surface. Gulls and Bald Eagles, alerted by this activity, circled above waiting for scraps. Active Dall’s Porpoises completed this enjoyable day.

Individuals Identified

Humpback Whales: Ojos Blancos, Quartz, Guardian, Ripple and Conger

Other Wildlife Included:

  • Dall’s Porpoise, Pacific Harbour Seals and Steller Sea Lions
  • Bald Eagles, Pigeon Guillemots and Rhinoceros Auklets

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day

“There is no present or future, only the past, happening over and over again, now”

-Eugene O’Neill

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Tuesday June 21, 2016– MV Lukwa and MV Kuluta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The activity in Weynton Pass today was unbelievable!

Our morning started with a sighting of over 20 Bald Eagles feeding and competing for Pacific Harbour Seal placenta. During pupping season, this is a rich food source for other wildlife in the area and is highly sought after by many of the bird species. There were mid air competitions, as each Bald Eagle tried to get its share.

Humpback Whales were everywhere! This morning, we identified five individuals including Slash and her 2016 calf, first seen on the tour yesterday! Horizon, a Humpback Whale first spotted in 2004 was among these whales. It is the first time we have seen her on our trips this year. Argonaut and Horizon traveled together slightly ahead of Slash and her calf. Guests really didn’t know where to look. In the afternoon, there was great excitement on both of our boats as we watched Argonaut repeatedly slap his/her tail on the water. Ojos Blancos surfaced nearby and Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals and Dall’s Porpoises popped up all around us. Ripple and Guardian, two female humpbacks surfaced and dove together in the currents of Blackney Pass.

The Dall’s Porpoises were extremely active in the calm waters created by the upwelling currents. Over eight porpoises chose to follow along with the Lukwa and it was possible at times to see six of their black and white bodies off of one side of the boat. They even followed Horizon the humpback, surfacing all around her.

Over 200 Pacific White Sided Dolphins fed across Blackfish Sound. Guests were fortunate to have a great view of some of these individuals as they leapt out of the ocean.

What a wonderful day to be on the water!

Individuals Identified

Humpback Whales: Ojos Blancos, Argonaut, Guardian, Slash + calf, Horizon, Ripple and Quartz

Other Wildlife Included:

Minke Whale, Dall’s Porpoise, Pacific White Sided Dolphins, Pacific Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions and Harbour Porpoise

Bald Eagles with chicks, Pigeon Guillemots, Oyster Catchers, Rhinoceros Auklets and Ancient Murrelets

Captain Geoff’s Quote of the Day

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water”- Rabindranath Tagore

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Monday June 20, 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: 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.

As we returned to the dock from today’s tour a guest was heard saying, “that was fantastic, totally awesome!.” This is a very accurate and astute description of today’s experience. The sun was warming guests as they observed five different humpback whales, eagles, seals, a feeding sea lion and the impressive tidal currents that make this area so rich and unique. 

At many points on today’s trip there was the question of where to look. At one point guests needed to decide between multiple humpbacks and then at another instance there was a Steller Sea Lion feeding on a fish at the surface while a Humpback Whale surfaced nearby. There were many times when no matter where you looked, there was something to take in.

That being said, there was no tough decisions to be made when watching and moving towards a blow in the distance we saw a small breaching Humpback Whale off to our right. We suspected this smaller whale to be a calf and it was seen breaching ten or more times as it traveled along with a bigger humpback. On board naturalist Carmen identified the suspected mom as Slash. Slash has been seen twice before with a calf (2008,2013) and now confirmed by the Marine Education and Research Society this means a third known calf for this whale. Slash is also available for adoption through the MERS Sponsor a Humpback Whale Program. This is not something we see everyday on our tours and for many guests on board it was a first. You could here visitors gasps every time the little whale could be seen jumping from the ocean. A truly spectacular sight for everyone on board.

Staying with the theme of juveniles, shortly after seeing the mom and calf pair we passed by an active Eagle’s nest where mom could be seen feeding the chicks in the nest. This confirmed that many nests in the area are active this year.

Along with the suspected mom and calf pair guests also saw three other Humpback Whales known as Guardian, Argonaut and Ojos Blancos in different locations. These three whales were all seen fluking and traveling in the strong currents, diving and likely feeding at depth.

Today was exactly as mentioned earlier and to re-quote one of our guests, “totally awesome”. We sat many times with engines off, which allowed guests to hear the blows of humpbacks as well as smaller marine mammals like Dall’s Porpoise. The tidal currents were spectacular, creating whirpools and tide rips that demonstrated the shear force of nature.

It is so uplifting to see so much new life in the area. With the confirmation of a new humpback calf,eagle chicks and yesterday’s seal pup sighting there is a joy and elation going on amongst our crew and visitors on our tours. Guests today arrived back in Telegraph Cove elated and grateful for their experience, as did our crew. Mother nature really is a miracle to be marvelled at.

Individuals Identified

Humpback Whales: Ojos Blancos, Argonaut, Guardian, Slash + calf

Other Wildlife Included:

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

Captain Geoff’s Quote of the Day

“New life, new love, new hope.” – Riarch Coco

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The Return of the Humpbacks – A Long Journey Home

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

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

Having completed numerous trips already this 2016 season, we’re happy to report having seen numerous Humpback Whales once again. It was not that long ago that sightings of these whales were infrequent to the region. When commercial whaling came to an end in 1967, humpback populations in British Columbia had been decimated. The first return sightings in this area were not reported until the early 80s, and didn’t become common until the early 2000s.

The seasonal migration of Humpback Whales is quite a miraculous trek. The whales we have been seeing recently have likely returned from Hawaii or Mexico to feed in these rich waters. Cascadia Research reported in their Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpback Whales in the North Pacific (SPLASH) report, that most humpbacks make this migration in order to mate and give birth in the safer, warmer waters of the tropics. The scarce amount of food in these warm waters motivates mom to begin a migration to colder waters just weeks after the calf’s birth. Here food is more abundant and after their long journey these whales are all about eating. This time of year expect to see them diving for longer periods of time in order to feed at depth.

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

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

Reaching up to forty tonnes in weight, these mammals can weigh approximately that of four hundred and eighty people according to the. They are huge! As we like to say on our tours, they are as big as a school bus. Amazing, given their primary food sources of krill, herring and other small schooling fish.

As the season progresses we are fortunate to observe these majestic giants, lunge feeding at the surface on groups of small schooling fish sometimes referred to as ‘bait balls’. Humpbacks are baleen whales. Their baleen enables them to filter out the water that they engulfed along with the food. According to the book “Marine Mammals of British Columbia” written by Dr. John Ford, it is arranged in up to 800 plates (270 to 400 plates on each side) hanging on the upper jaw where teeth would normally be found in other species. Made of keratin, the same protein present in hair and fingernails, baleen keeps the food in the whale’s mouth as the water leaves through the filter. This efficient feeding process allows the humpbacks to engulf approximately one and half tones of food a day and build up fat reserves for the upcoming migration back to the tropical waters come the fall.

A typical migrating humpback will swim six to eight weeks  before arriving in the northern pacific.

Six to eight weeks?! How is that possible?

While there is no confirmed study on the resting patterns of Humpback Whales we do know that toothed whales like Orca and dolphins have the ability to rest half of their brains at a time. Humpback Whales migrate at speeds of three to nine miles per hour on average and can travel approximately one thousand miles per month. These migrations can reach up to 16,000 kms as indicated from data obtained during the SPLASH project. Not a shocking discovery that the migration of a Humpback Whale is on record as one of the longest migrations of any mammal on the planet!

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

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

Seeing the return of these giants is extremely exciting. That being said, they still face many threats. As reported by MERS, the top three of these include: entanglement, vessel strikes and potential prey shortages. With summer approaching and more boats on the water, we frequently relay and practice the Marine Education and Research Society’s (MERS’) motto, ‘See a blow? Go slow!’ Stubbs is proud to assist MERS and other local researchers by relaying sighting information and identification photographs of the animals we see in this area.

The return of the Humpback Whale has been a long road. It is reassuring to note, what once was, is not always what will be. Mother Nature is resilient when we give her a chance to recover as we have done with the Humpback Whales. It is a privilege to see them so frequently on our tours and to have witnessed their return to this area.

Bibliography

1.http://www.mersociety.org/researchhumpbacks.htm. MERS Humpback Whale Research.

2. Calambokidis, J., E.A. Falcone, T.J. Quinn, A.M. Burdin, P.J. Clapham, J.K.B. Ford, C.M. Gabriele, R. LeDuc, D. Mattila, L. Rojas-Bracho, J.M. Straley, B.L. Taylor, J. Urban, D. Weller, B.H. Witteveen, M. Yamaguchi, A. Bendlin, D. Camacho, K. Flynn, A. Havron, J. Huggins, and N. Maloney. 2008. SPLASH: Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance, and Status of Humpback Whales in the North Pacific. Final Report for Contract AB133F-03-RP-00078.

3. Ford, John. Marine Mammals of British Columbia. Vol. 6. Victoria, British Columbia: Royal BC Museum, 2014. Print.

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Sunday June 19, 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: Alison Ogilvie

Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie

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: 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.

There was one word uttered throughout the tour today, “Beautiful”. That one word was used to describe the weather, the whales, the currents in the water and the variety of other wildlife guests were privilege to see. The water was pristine as we departed Telegraph Cove and tidal currents were at max flood allowing visitors to see whirlpools and tide rips that contribute to making this area so unique. Beautiful is one of many words that can be used to describe the amazing trip we had.

Sticking with the theme of beautiful, a new birth is always something to rejoice about and a new pup is always special to see. With engines off we drifted through one of the passes around the ‘Plumber Islands’ as guests enjoyed a moment of exceptional quiet and calm. Then, just beyoned the kelp bed, a Pacific Harbour Seal with a pup. The pair were seen resting as the new pup nursed on Mom. It was breathtaking and a highlight of the trip.

Something else we do not see often on our tours is sea otters. This is the second time this season we have been privilege to see a sea otter on our tour. The sea otter we saw today was swimming swiftly on his/her back and taking short dives. Always an uplifting sight, as sea otters were once hunted to extinction on the BC coast. Since then they have been reintroduced into the habitat and appear to be making an exciting recovery.

Once again we were blessed with the presence of the majestic and huge Humpback Whales. Fluking and diving for about five to ten minutes, guests were able to see the difference in flukes as Ojos Blancos and Gaurdian were both seen. Ojos Blancos fluke is mainly black in colour while Guardian’s is mainly white. The underside of a humpback fluke is a key trait used for their identification and help us let visitors know which whale they are seeing and relay information about that whale’s history if it is available.

There was a few high energy moments when guests were lucky to be flanked by two humpbacks. Both Argonaut and Ojos Blancos were surfacing on opposite sides of the boat just moments apart. Guests could be seen swiveling left to right as their blows were heard and the whales continue to surface. Shortly after we left the area guests noticed the sea otter we had previously seen was also in the area close to the humpbacks. There was a lot to take in during those moments.

The beauty of Mother Nature was in full force today as the sun beat down and warmed the guests on board. The water was calm and glassy in spots and in others could be seen ripping as we approached max flood. The awesome power of life was observed with the presence of seal mom and pup and a Bald Eagle seen sitting on a nest. Today there was no shortage of moments that could take your breath away.

Individuals Identified

Humpback Whales: Ojos Blancos, Argonaut, Guardian

Other Wildlife Included:

– Dall’s Porpoise, Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals, Sea Otter, Blad Eagle, Rhinoceros Auklets, Pigeon Guillemots, Pelagic Cormorant.

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day

“A prudent person profoits from personal experience, a wise one from the experience of others.” -Dr. J. Collins

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Saturday June 18, 2016 – MV Lukwa and 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.

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: 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.

Humpback Whales, Eagles and an active Steller Sea Lion were the main wildlife present on our tour today. We were joined by a fantastic group of guests as the Lukwa and the Kuluta departed on their 1 pm trips. The weather was classic west coast, with a low hanging cloud cover and a chill in the air.

 It was a great day, as guests were able to see six different Humpback Whales. All six were were identified by our on board naturalists and are known as Conger, Ojos Blancos, Argonaut, Guardian, Ripple and for the first time on one of our tours this year, Moonstar. This is Moonstar’s first sighting this season as confirmed by the Marine Education and Research Society. It is always an exciting day when we see a whale return to these waters. All whales were fluking and traveling swiftly or in circles.

An engaging moment for guests and crew alike as we observed a Steller Sea Lion feeding. There was a sequence of splashing at the surface as the sea lion lunged out of the water with a fish in it’s mouth multiple times. Meanwhile, guests watched as one of two humpbacks re-surfaced and was seen swimming in the direction of the feeding Steller Sea Lion. A few moments later the humpback swam directly into the sea lion and both appeared quite startled. The humpback was heard “trumpeting” when it came to surface the next two to three times.

Always impressive are the huge and majestic Bald Eagles. Seen perched and sitting in many tree tops today, guests were able to easily compare the size between a female and male eagle as we passed by a mating pair sitting in the tree tops side by side. In birds of prey the female bird is always the bigger bird. Eagles were also seen soaring through the air, allowing guests to take in their impressive size.

There is a never a disappointing day on the waters off Telegraph Cove. Today was energetic and active, as guests were seen quickly rushing from the cabin to take in what was happening outside. At some points deciding where to look was difficult as there were times where more than one whale was present. Part of the beauty of witnessing the wild first hand is the unpredictability of what will happen and when. This rang true today and kept guests on there toes and engaged throughout the trip.

Individuals Identified

Humpback Whales: Ojos Blancos, Conger, Argonaut, Moonstar, Ripple and

Guardian

Other Wildlife Included:

-Pacific White-Sided Dolphin, Dall’s Porpoise, Pacific Harbour Seals, Rhinoceros Auklets,

Pigeon Guillemots.

Captain Wayne’s Quote of the Day

“Whatever you are trying to avoid won’t go away until you confront it.” Anonymous

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Friday June 17, 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.

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.

Today was the kind of day that takes your breath away. It was so quiet and calm you could hear a pin drop. The water was as clear as glass, which made for spectacular viewing. When we were observing wildlife, guests were energized and completely captivated.

The feeling created by the summer-like weather was further amplified by the presence of Humpback Whales. Their strong exhalations and towering size had guests turning their heads quickly and shifting from one side of the boat to the other. Our visitors today were lucky to observe four different humpbacks. Two of the whales our on board naturalist is still working to identify and fluke photos have been sent to the Marine Education and Research Society. The other two whales are known as Ripple and Ojos Blancos (White Eyes in Spanish) and we have been lucky to see them frequently on our tours.

As we traveled through the islands, guests were mesmerized by the crystal blue waters. People on board were able to observe beams of sun streaming to the depths below. Through the islands guests were privileged to see that some of the eagles nests in the area are active. Today, one of the chicks’ heads was visible just outside the nest.

Mother Nature affirmed today that she does not operate on a schedule of any kind. While our naturalist was giving a summary talk about what we saw on our tour, she was interupted by a pod of approximately 20-30 Pacific White-Sided Dolphins traveling down Johnstone Strait. Their bodies were clearly visible below the water and conditions were perfect for viewing. They could be seen swiftly swimming and maneuvering underwater. Some choose to ride alongside the boat and in the wake while others traveled nearby. As they surfaced their exhalations were clearly audible as was the sound of splashing as they re-entered the water. The combination of perfect conditions and the dolphin’s behaviour made for an extraordinary experience.

Today was a day many would refer to as picture perfect. At the end of the trip there was a vibrancy amongst the guests as well as the crew. Operating out of Telegraph Cove provides a unique opportunity to connect with the wild and observe a diverse selection of species. Today’s guests left smiling and with a spirited energy that we see so often from guests after having spent time in the wild.

Individuals Identified

Humpback Whales: Ripple. Ojos Blanocs (White Eyes in Spanish)

Other Wildlife Included:

– Dall’s Porpoise, Pacific Harbour Seals, River Otter, Mink, Surf Scoters and Harlequin Ducks.

Captain Geoff’s Quote of the Day

“Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated ” -Confucius

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