Tharrrr she blows!

No, you are not reading a recycled post, this is just the second time we go on this trip. 😉

As we enjoyed the first time around on the whale watching trip as much as we did on the day before yesterday, we booked a second time (today) straight after returning.
So, today, a third day in a row, we travelled to Telegraph Cove to get on a boat. And for the third time, it was cold. Very cold.

And again, the Johnston Straight delivered! After going out to a matriline of resident orca we found they were too far away, and still getting further out. We stopped pursueing them and went back to the Humpback whales we ignored on our way out. The biologist on duty (Jackie, a former dutch resident teaching biology in Rotterdam) is studying them and got really excited after discovering one if ‘her’ whales had a calf, and must therefore be female!

Leaving them, and with Jackie in desperation, we headed out for our true goal: orca.
And did we find them!

Eventually, the captain of our ship maneuvered us quite a long distance from a group of orca, feeding along the coast of Knight’s Inlet. As they were getting closer and closer to pass on the right, more matrilines appeared on our left and front leaving us surrounded by orca!
One of the families decided they would change their route, which led straight under out boat! I’ve got one amazing shot of an orca, appearing from under the boat and slightly breaching the water. In one word: awesome!

All in all, we saw about 30 killer whales from several families and about 6 humpback whales. A really productive day, mammal-wise!

Finally, we drove from Telegraph Cove to Campbell River, where we are staying one night before going to Tofino. Looking forward to being there!


Grizzlies aye!

Starting really early again, we were expected to be present in front of the building of Tide Rip Tours in Telegraph Cove at 06:45 after a one hour drive from Port Hardy. It’s not hard to imagine this would mean a wakeup call around 05:15 to get in the right place on the right time. It did. 😉

We were promptly directed to captain Bill Mahey and his fishing boat as he would ferry us from Telegraph Cove to Glendale Cove, a solid 93 km trip up Knight’s Inlet to the bear-viewing skiffs. We primarily travelled parallel to the inlet as it gets rough when the winds start to pick up, so for about three quarters of the ride it was very smooth sailing. After we reached Glendale Cove for disembarkment and getting onto the skiffs we finally set out to do what we ultimately came for: grizzly bears.

So for, all we heard was that grizzlies are very shy, lived their lives pretty much solitary and are very weary of humans. They often keep back and stay away from activity so getting to see one is very hard.
Until today.
Right off the bat, our captain told us to go look in some grass about 2km away as there ‘obviously’ was a bear present. We were a party of 4, but even with the help of 4 pairs of binoculars we seemed unable to see what the captain saw.

We started our tour of Clendale Cove off with the guide Dave, leaving Bill and his boat to eventually start preparing lunch, with covering the 2 km to the grassland the bear was feeding on. We were told the grassy stuff was Sedge grass and that the tide was coming in. The tides have a height difference of 3 metres around these days, and can even reach as much as 5.5 metres on special occasions!

Having reached the grassland, we realised it would all be underwater when the tide reached the highest point and that the bear would have to move to avoid getting wet. Around this time we noticed the bear was not alone, but it is accompanied by not one but two cubs! The guides identified her as Bella and the cubs were around 1.5 years old.

As the tide rose, the bears moved to slightly higher grounds but remained perfectly visible! The mother decided it was time to take a nap, and she did just that. Right on front of our eyes, she lay down and took a solid 30 minute map. Can you imagine 15 people on a flat boat with 15 cameras and 14 long lenses taking shots of 3 sleeping bears? I guess it must have been a hilarious sight. We were just co-existing in serenity with the bears. Each of us doing what we do best. The bears slept, and we watched. A very special situation!

By this time, we needed to go back as lunch was being served. What seemed to be very short actually grew into 120 minutes of bear watching!
Right after lunch, we had the opportunity to go back to the bears for a short visit, which we gladly took!
This time around, things got a little hairier as we positioned ourselves by accident between the bear family and the place they wanted to go! The result? One slightly disturbed guide in a hurry to get the boat out of the way, 60 shots on our cameras and 3 bears swimming to get across a few metres of water just 4 metres away from the boat. Wow.

Tomorrow some spare time, which we filled with an impromptu whale watching trip, and off to Campbell River!


Tharrrr she blows!

Today has been all about whales and trying to find them. And not any regular type whales, we are targeting orca!

First off, we left from the hotel in Port Hardy for a one hour drive to the boat stationed at Telegraph Cove. After a quick an well made coffee (thanks!) We embarked on a 3.5 hour voyage into Johnston Straight to go hunting for the elusive killer whales.
Right after we left the port the captain heard other whaling vessels chatter about a pod of ‘transient’ orcas hanging around quite a distance away. So he gunned it. 2 500 horsepower Caterpillar engines revved up and made us go fast. 😉

There’s actually a lot of non-connected groups and extended families amongst the recognized types of orca (not subspecies!); resident, transient and offshore orca. The first and latter types eat fish, the transient pedal live between the gulleys and the open ocean and feed on marine mammals. Offshore orca very rarely come anywhere near the shores while resident orca live right off the beaches and islands.

To avoid boring everyone with the chase of orca and humpback and the excitement amongst us, here is a list of animals we encountered:
Dall’s porpoise
Humpback whale
A lot of birds, I don’t know the names of. 🙂

Tomorrow an equally exciting day as we are going on the hunt for grizzly bears!