May 2011 SightingsTuesday May 31
We sighted 2 separate groups of Pacific white sided dolphins, the first at Chatham Point and the second group in Nodales Channel. Very playful and exuberant.
Did you know:
Pacific white-sided dolphins are gregarious. Groups typically consist of 5 to 100 individuals, but they can form large schools up to a thousand individuals during migration. The schools generally include all ages and both genders and occasionally mix with other species; common dolphins and Risso's dolphins are their favourite company. Group sizes and shapes change depending on context. The numbers of herds tend to be smaller in shallow water. When traveling, the dolphins may either swim close together or form a line side by side. When feeding, they divide into sub-groups of between 10 to 20 individuals. Researchers suggest that schooling helps the community with finding food, mates, and predator defense.
We also spotted Steller Sea lions, probably one of the last sightings for a few months as the males have all gone off to the breeding rookeries and will stay there until August. The trip was rounded off with rays of sunshine, spectacular scenery and up to 50 -60 harbour seals enjoying the sun at Sonora Island.
Sunday May 22
We did a 4 hr trip to Mitlenatch Island, came upon 6 transients SE of Savoury Shoals, observed some feeding display, tail slapping and a nice breach and spy hops. The whales were moving in a SE direction, a group of 4 escorted by a large male and female. Beautiful water, the sun was shining on us whilst Campbell River was raining. We were the only boat out, just us and the orcas. Perfect!
At Mitlenatch we saw at least 150 - 200 Steller sea lions and California sea lions on the rocks, great sounds of barking (Californias) and growling (Stellers). The harbour seals had their own separate hang out away from their noisy neighbours. Eagles were harassing the cormorants and sea gulls, all in all lots of action at Mitlenatch.
On the way back just off the lighthouse at Quadra 4 harbour porpoises were very quietly feeding, we stopped and they hung around the boat - a fitting finale for our trip.
Saturday May 21
No whale sightings today, but we found about 20 Dall's porpoises at Hole in the Wall. They behaved very relaxed and were all around the boat. Caught sight of a juvenile eagle behind Sonora and came across a group of Steller sea lions at Jimmy Judd. Soon they will head north to their breeding grounds. A neat fact about bull kelp which we see all over: currently growing up to 60cm per day, it is one of the planet's fastest growing living organisms. The stem grows between 30-70 meters, the bladder is full of carbon monoxide and acts as a swim float, the fronds can be up to 10 meters long.
Tuesday May 17
Barely needed to leave the harbour, our Marine Wildlife Tour found 14 transients at Race Point. They were foraging, breaching, spyhopping, tail slapping - generally having a great little time. We followed them to Gowland Harbour, then went south into Okisollo Channel and down the rapids which were running pretty good and put on a show of boiling water. We had lunch in the sun at Owen Bay and then leisurely made our way back to Campbell River. The whales definitely made everyone's day, again!
Sunday May 15
Today's Marine Wildlife Safari was a huge success!! We were excited to come across some Steller sea lions at Jimmy Judd Island and it only got better from there. As we came up on Chatham Point, we could see a couple of spouts in the distance but it wasn't until we got a bit closer that we realized we were in the company of 15-20 transient orcas! We watched them actively feeding for quite some time and were lucky enough to see some new calves breaching and playing. It was incredible to watch and everyone thoroughly enjoyed their day, despite the rain.
Friday May 13
Our first Spring Orford Tour went out today and we had luck with us on our boat and on land. Starting with glorious weather after the cold winds of the past days, we had a great ride through calm waters and around Fawn Bluff caught sight of a young black bear, perched agains the rocky shore line, dining on some mussels that were growing at tideline. They must have been really delicious, because he hardly took notice of our boat, busily munching away.
Just north of it half a dozen porpoises appeared and rode our bow wave, fast flashes in the sunlight. Arrived in Orford Bay and shuttled to the new estuary tower with a great wide reaching view, and spotted right away a very large cinnamon grizzly, munching away on the nutritious sedge grass in the flats, with snowcapped mountains offering a spectacular backdrop.
Then, after a quick look at the petroglyphs, we had to be on our way back and finally finished the tour with a group of Steller sea lions on hanging out at Centre Island. A glorious day with the promise of many more to come!
Tuesday May 10
We started the 2011 season with a blast on our Marine Wildlife Tour today! Never even got out of Discovery Passage, which was good, because we found a pod of 8 resident orcas right here in Brown's Bay at Campbell River's door steps! It was calm waters, they were feeding, with seagulls in tow waiting for the opportunity to dive down and pick up scraps. All females with one, still rather juvenile, male, they were quite active: lots tail slaps, pectoral slaps, 8-10 breaches - just a joy to watch!
We respectfully stayed with them for about an hour, then went south and encountered a black bear mom with her two cubs foraging at the low tide beach. Then turned into Nodales Channel and around Sonora we saw another male black bear. Lots of eagles and seals there as well. A great tour, a great show and our guests were delighted!