Lunge For Your Lunch!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018 – M.V. Lukwa

A Humpback Whale lunge feeding.

Today’s Sightings: Humpback Whales (Argonaut, Slash, Slapshot, Merge, Freckles, Inukshuk, Pultney, and others!), Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Black-tailed Deer, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Great Blue Heron, Pelagic Cormorants, Pacific Loon, and Bald Eagles. 

This morning we welcomed the Biology and Tourism students from Port Hardy Secondary School. Throughout the day there were Humpback Whales feeding in all directions, lunging through concentrations of small schooling fish. Dolphins sped past the Steller Sea Lions that were hauled out on the rocks, startling many of them into the water. Guests on both of our trips also spotted Black-tailed deer on the Plumper Islands.

A mature Bald Eagle watching us drift by.

Spectacular morning scenery.

Dolphins and Sea Lions.

Steller Sea Lions relaxing on the rocks.

Who will get to the food first?

Another lunge feed.

A Black-tailed Deer grazing on seaweed.

Naturalist Carmen discusses Humpback Whales with the students from Port Hardy Secondary School.

What a beautiful afternoon.

Rain-blow!

A Pacific Loon flies by.

Pacific Harbour Seals on the rock and in the water.

Photo Credit: Alex McDonald and Carmen Pendleton. Images taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

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Great Balls of Bait!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 – M.V. Lukwa

Massive throat pleats expand as Yahtzee the Humpback Whale lunge-feeds

Today’s Sightings: Humpback Whales (Argonaut, Slash, Ridge, Claw, Yahtzee, Ripple, Obsidian and others!), Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Great Blue Heron, Pelagic Cormorants, and Bald Eagles.

Today the Humpback Whales out in Blackfish Sound were feeding so voraciously that we could hardly keep up! Every time a bait ball started to form, with Gulls overhead and Common Murres below, a Humpback Whale would lunge and scoop up the entire mouthful! It kept us on our toes, wondering which direction feeding was going to occur in next! We were treated to a glimmer of sunshine today which the Pacific Harbour Seals and Steller Sea Lions soaked up on the rocks.

The aftermath of a huge lunge feed by Yahtzee the Humpback Whale. Can you see the spots that inspired the name Yahtzee?

This male Steller Sea Lion was having a good scratch… or testing his flexibility

The distinctive (lack of) dorsal fin of Slash the Humpback Whale

Pacific Harbour Seals hauled out in the sunshine

A flash of fluke from Slash the Humpback Whale after she lunge fed on a bait ball. Spot the dorsal fin of another Humpback Whale in the background?

What a wingspan on this mature Bald Eagle soaring overhead!

Lunge feed! The horizon was full of hovering hungry Gulls today, marking spots where Humpback Whales surfaced!

This Common Murre was carrying around their prize, a small fish scooped from a bait ball

Steller Sea Lions keeping warm above the water

A mature Bald Eagle perched in the lush green trees

Photo credits: Alex McDonald and Carmen Pendleton. *Photos taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.*

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Transient Sounds and Sunshine!

Monday, September 24, 2018 – M.V. Lukwa

Peekaboo! A Mammal-eating Orca pokes its head out of the water after a successful Steller Sea Lion hunt.

Today’s Sightings: Humpback Whales (Yahtzee, Unknowns), Mammal-eating (Transient/Bigg’s) Orcas (T100s, T002B), Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Great Blue Heron, Pelagic Cormorants, Red-necked Phalaropes, and Bald Eagles.

Today we got to witness a rare, exciting event! A group of Transient/Bigg’s (mammal-eating) Orcas sharing their catch with each other. Jared Towers of DFO identified them as the T100 Matriline as well as T002B. The group circled in the tide rips, splashing and vocalizing as Gulls hovered above snatching up the scraps. To be able to listen to these stealthy hunters vocalize and to watch them interact was fascinating! Steller Sea Lions stayed out of the water, hauled out in the sunshine on the rocks, vigilant lest they become second lunch for the Bigg’s Orcas. Spectacular September sightings of Humpback Whales continued, with several bait balls being lunge-fed upon and blows spotted in all directions. Active Pacific White-sided Dolphins rounded out this amazing day, choosing to surf along in the waves and giving us great views.

A very small calf surfaces near its mother, while a gull flies by with scraps of Steller Sea Lion

A Gull flies overhead to get some scraps from the Orcas’ meal.

Members of the T100 matriline of Mammal-eating Orcas.

Rednecked/Northern Phalaropes.

A Steller Sea Lion porpoises in front of more, highly vocal, sea lions.

So calm, the blows of this Humpback Whale linger.

A mature Bald Eagle.

What’s that Gull got in its beak? Remnants of a successful hunt by these Mammal-eating Orcas!

Pacific White-sided Dolphins porpoise out of the water.

Mystery whale! An unknown Humpback Whale dives.

Huge Steller Sea Lion.

Rainbow blow.

Photo credits: Alex McDonald and Johanna Ferrie. *Photos taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.*

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Sailing Through Sunny Sunday, See a Sea Otter!

Saturday, September 22, 2018 – M.V. Lukwa

Look!

Today’s Sightings: Humpback Whales (Argonaut, Domino, Ridge, Stitch, Quartz, Conger, Freckles, and Corporal), Sea Otter, Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Marbled Murrelets, Great Blue Heron, Pacific Loon, Pelagic & Double-crested Cormorants, Bald Eagles, and a Lincoln Sparrow.

We voyaged out into calm seas and blue skies today! Despite these calm waters, activity was all around us – Steller Sea Lions roared and snapped at one another on rocks while one smacked a large salmon on the surface of the water, Humpback Whales lunge fed everywhere we looked, and various bird calls punctuated the still air. We even had a visiting Lincoln Sparrow perch on the Lukwa. So many different birds soared or swam by. Bait balls of Herring, schooled up by diving birds, presented a cacophony of Gulls, only to be broken up by the huge mouths of Humpbacks! A particular highlight was chancing upon a Sea Otter! We were lucky enough to watch him/her float in front of Pacific Harbour Seals and roll around at the surface.

Wildlife before we even leave the dock.

Keep watching the birds!

Lunge feeding Humpback Whale, Conger.

Blow!

Common Murres, superstars of the diving birds.

Seals, Pelagic Cormorants and Double-crested Cormorants occupy the same rock.

Spectacular scenery (and a Humpback Whale).

Rhinoceros Auklets.

Marbled Murrelets.

Lunch time for this Steller Sea Lion.

Steller Sea Lions hauled out and relaxing in the sun.

Did you know that the female Bald Eagle is larger than the male?

A Pacific Harbour Seal swimming past the Lukwa.

Look who landed on the Lukwa.

A Lincoln’s Sparrow.

Photo credits: Carmen Pendleton and Johanna Ferrie. All images taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.

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Spectacular Saturday!

Saturday, September 22, 2018 – M.V. Lukwa

Three species, one photo! A Raven, Gull, and Bald Eagle.

Today’s Sightings: Humpback Whales (Argonaut, Pisa, Ridge, Merge, Inukshuk, Stitch, Quartz and many more!), Northern Resident (fish-eating) Killer Whales (A34, A30 Matrilines), Dall’s Porpoises, Black Bears, Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Blue Heron,  and Bald Eagles.

The students from the Eco Art club at Eagle View Elementary School joined us this morning for a spectacular tour. The calm waters made it easy for the students to spot multiple blows of Humpback Whales, and learned that watching the birds is a good idea! We were also fortunate to encounter the A34 Matriline of Northern Resident (fish-eating) Killer Whales foraging in Johnstone Strait. In the afternoon, we caught back up to the Northern Resident Killer Whales who were socializing in the straits, spyhopping, tail slapping and rolling around at the surface. The sun was out, illuminating the blows of the Humpback Whales feeding on bait balls all across the horizon. On the rocks, Steller Sea Lions basked in the sun and Pacific Harbour Seals also caught some rays.

Two Black Bears- what a surprise!

Inukshuk the Humpback Whale surfaces, his blow lingering in the air

Steller Sea Lion relaxing on the rocks.

A Northern Resident Orca surfaces

Clouds nestled into the tree tops over Johnstone Strait

A Great Blue Heron soars overhead.

Fantastic Humpback Whale fluke

Gulls perched on our favorite seaweed, Bull Kelp!

Steller Sea Lions thoroughly occupying a rock

Common Murres, the greatest divers around

A mature Bald Eagle

Can you spot the Common Loon in front of this Humpback Whale?

Sometimes you’ve got to fight for the best spot on the Steller Sea Lion rock

A sight for soggy eyes… the sunshine over Telegraph Cove!

Lunge feeding Humpback Whale. Can you spot the fish that got away?

Photo credits: Alex McDonald, Carmen Pendleton, and Johanna Ferrie. *Photos taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.*

 

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Wild West Coast Weather!

Friday, September 21, 2018 – M.V. Lukwa

Humpback Whales Inukshuk and Guardian double lunge on small schooling fish! See the Herring coming out of her mouth?

Today’s Sightings: Humpback Whales (Guardian, Inukshuk, Merge, Argonaut, Ridge, many more!), Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Bald Eagles, White-wing & Surf Scoters, Great Blue Herons, and Belted Kingfishers.

This morning the rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the wonderful group of students who joined us from K’ak’ot’lats’i School. The sharp-eyed students spotted a large group of seabirds feeding on the surface before… a Humpback whale lunge fed on all the small fish underneath! The Steller Sea Lions and the Harbour Seals didn’t mind the rain as they hauled out on their favourite rocks. The afternoon brought more rain but some of the best Humpback Whale feeding action we’ve seen all season! Guardian, Inukshuk, Argonaut, Merge and 2-3 other unidentified Humpback Whales were lunging out of the water unpredictably as they fed on bait balls scattered all throughout the bay. Our perseverance through the crazy weather paid off and we got lucky near the end of the day, catching up to some Northern Resident Orcas being pursued by Pacific White-sided Dolphins. You just never know what the rain might reveal out here!

K’ak’ot’lats’i school children stay dry as they watch Humpback Whales.

A wee patch of sunlight illuminates these Steller Sea Lions.

A Bald Eagle surveys us in the rain.

Stunning West Coast scenery and loads of feeding activity, what more could we want!

LUNGE! Guardian (right) lunges right out of the water while the Pectoral fin of Inukshuk is all that is visible.

A Gull flies overhead towards one of many bait balls!

Naturalist Carmen grins from the bow of the Lukwa as children from K’ak’ot’lats’i school watch the wildlife action.

The underwater organizers of small schooling fish – Common Murres.

A Steller Sea Lion attempts to chomp the neck of another sea lion.

A Humpback Whale lands on its back after breaching!

One more of this spectacular lunge-feeding, check out the expansion of those pleats!

Photo credits: Alex McDonald and Johanna Ferrie. *Photos taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.*

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September Weather, Spectacular Action!

Thursday, September 20, 2018 – M.V. Lukwa

Claw the Humpback Whale lunge-feeds on a bait ball

Today’s Sightings: Humpback Whales (Merge, Argonaut, Guardian, Hunter, Quartz and many more!), Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Bald Eagles, Pacific Loons, White-wing & Surf Scoters, Great Blue Herons, and Belted Kingfishers.

Today we were pleased to see the rain coming down, smothering the last of the forest fires burning in British Columbia. What couldn’t be smothered was our excitement today though! Bait balls of fish (likely juvenile herring) seemed to form everywhere across the horizon, marked by swirling mobs of Gulls as well as squawking rafts of Common Murres. Humpback Whales were lunge-feeding on these numerous bait balls, sometimes one at a time, sometimes in tandem. Steller Sea Lions didn’t seem to mind the rain, growling and snorting from their favourite haulout spot. The humans also didn’t seem to mind the rain, including a wonderful group of excited young students from Wagalus School today. Always inspired to see the next generation get excited about the wonderful wildlife!

Lucky gull! See the one that snagged a herring before the Humpback Whale scooped it all?

September weather makes us want to curl up with a friend as well! Maybe not a Steller Sea Lion friend though.

A Steller Sea Lion hauled out on our namesake, Stubbs Island!

Two mature Bald Eagles wait out the rain

A medley of Pacific Harbour Seals hauled out

Swimming Steller Sea Lions

A mature Bald Eagle has a hard time camouflaging with that brilliant white head

An adult Common Murre in breeding plumage (right) and a juvenile in non-breeding plumage (left)

Part 1. Hunter the Humpback Whale lunge feeds

Part 2. Hunter the Humpback Whale lunge feeds

Part 3. Hunter the Humpback Whale lunge feeds

Photo credits: Alex McDonald and Carmen Pendleton. *Photos taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.*

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Cool Breeze, Calm Seas, Look at These!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018 – M.V. Lukwa

Northern Resident Orcas in the sunshine!

Today’s Sightings: Humpback Whales (Merge, Inukshuk, Squiggle, and many more!), Fish-eating (Northern Resident) Orcas (A30, A34 and I15 Matrilines), Dall’s Porpoises, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Bald Eagles, Fork-tailed Storm Petrels, White-wing & Surf Scoters, Great Blue Herons, and Belted Kingfishers.

Today was surprising in the best way! The forecast said rain, however by midway through the morning trip the sun was out and the sea was calm enough to use as a mirror. We were also surprised to find a huge, incredibly social group of Northern Resident Orcas including the A30, A34 and I15 Matrilines. There were so many breaches, spyhops and tail slaps that we lost count! The Humpback Whales also kept us on our toes, lunge-feeding unpredictably. Squiggle the Humpback Whale tail-lobbed and smacked his huge tail against the surface of the water. Steller Sea Lions snored and roared from the rocks. Active Dall’s Porpoises and Pacific White-sided Dolphins sped along at the surface, making our trusty M.V. Lukwa look slow.

Common Murres, Surf Scoters and a Humpback Whale

Stunning sunny scenery today makes the perfect backdrop for Northern Resident Orcas

A Pacific White-sided Dolphin appears!

A Pacific Harbour Seal hauled out in the sunlight

Gorgeous morning mist as these Northern Resident Orcas travel closely together

Two mature Bald Eagles perched in the shade

A Northern Resident Orca soars out of the water!

Magical morning blows from two Humpback Whales

This male Northern Resident Orca was slapping his tail against the surface of the water, tossing some Bull Kelp around!

Steller Sea Lions enjoying the afternoon sun

Leach’s Storm Petrel

Smack! Squiggle the Humpback Whale tail slaps at the surface

Photo credits: Alex McDonald and Johanna Ferrie. *Photos taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.*

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Turn it Up Tuesday!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018 – M.V. Lukwa

Northern Resident Orcas travel together, these individuals are part of the A30 Matriline

Today’s Sightings: Humpback Whales (Ripple, Obsidian, Ridge, Domino, Freckles and many more!), Northern Resident (fish-eating) Orca (A30 and A34 Matrilines), Dall’s Porpoises, Pacific Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Great Blue Heron, Pelagic Cormorants, and Northern Phalaropes.

The sounds of today were absolutely sensational, as were the sights! We dropped the hydrophone and sat in awe in the calm waters of Queen Charlotte Strait as Northern Resident Orcas from the A30 and A34 Matrilines foraged for fish and socialized. Humpback Whale blows resonated across the water from all directions, leaving us unsure of which direction to look in case we missed any action! Common Murre and Gull calls indicated where bait balls were forming, giving us high hopes that Humpback Whales would find said bait balls an appetizing afternoon meal! There were a few Humpback Whale lunge-feeds spotted as well as the cartwheeling tail of Freckles the Humpback Whale as she trumpeted at the surface of the water. What we wouldn’t give to soak up those sounds all day and into the sunset!

Pacific Harbour Seals of all colours hauled out on the rocks

Common Murres at the surface of the water

Northern Resident Orcas from the A30 Matriline

Steller Sea Lions poke their heads out of the water, investigating their favourite haul-out spot

Bad day to be a fish! This bait ball is getting worked by Gulls from above and diving birds like Common Murres from below

Ripple the Humpback Whale with her 2018 calf, Obsidian

A Northern Resident Orca surfaces

These Pacific Harbour Seals blend in expertly to the rocky shoreline and kelp forests

Photo credits: Johanna Ferrie and Alex McDonald. *Images taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.*

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Calm Seas and Skies, Wild Wildlife Surprise!

September 17, 2018 – M.V. Lukwa

Freckles the Humpback Whale (left) and members of the T055 matriline of Mammal-eating Orca.

Today’s Sightings: Humpback Whales (Domino, Claw, Ripple and Obsidian, Conger, Argonaut, Freckles, Stitch, Pisa, Inukshuk, and many more!), Mammal-eating (Bigg’s/Transient) Orcas (T055s), Steller Sea Lions, Pacific Harbour Seals, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Bald Eagles, Ancient Murrelets, Fork-tailed Storm Petrels, White-wing & Surf Scoters, Great Blue Herons, and Belted Kingfishers.

Today was a day that may just beat National Geographic; a very interesting interaction between a Humpback Whale known locally as Freckles was with a family of Mammal-eating Orcas, and lots of activity could be seen. Freckles trumpeted and surfaced erratically, even vocalizing under the surface occasionally. These Orcas moved around a lot today but bypassed Seals and Sea Lions, and after their interaction with Freckles, slowly travelled north. Feeding frenzies stirred up the calm waters in multiple directions – Gulls, Auklets, Murres and Murrelets, fed on balls of Herring before Humpback Whales would swallow the mass. A couple of Steller Sea Lions also whacked larger fish at the surface, birds swooping in to get flying scraps. What a day to be alive!

The T055 matriline of Mammal-eating Orcas.

Freckles escaping from the Orca.

The T055 matriline of Mammal-eating Orca.

Freckles the Hmpback Whale, after her encounter with the Orca.

Check out the reflection.

Can you hear the call of the Common Murre.

A Gull lands on a relaxing Steller Sea Lion.

What a jump! This Steller Sea Lion leaps from the water.

Humpback Whale Pisa lunge feeding on a group small schooling fish.

A member of the T055 matriline of Mammal-eating Orcas.

Eagle-eyed guests spot a whale!

Humpback Whales in Blackfish Sound.

Steller Sea Lion eating a fish at the surface.

Mother and Calf Humpback Whales, Ripple and Obsidian.

Gull and Storm Petrel.

Photo credits: Carmen Pendleton and Johanna Ferrie. *Photos taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.*

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