Friday, August 12, 2011

It's Often the Little Things

More and more often I am finding that the little creatures are making many of my tours memorable. We tout our trips to see whales, grizzly bears and scenery, but often times these top of the food chain creatures have their own agenda which may not agree with ours. Tide levels, food availability, timing and weather can all conspire against our best efforts to show our guests the highlight predators we all hope to see and cross off our bucket lists. Last week I had two tours out to Johnston Strait to hopefully see Orcas and Humpback whales. The weather worked with us, albeit quite heavy waves coming up the inlet with the inflow winds in the afternoons for our rides home. The tides were favorable to see some black bears grazing on the beaches and Johnston Straight flat as glass and sunny. Finally we spotted the Orca fins, inside the Robson Bight Nature reserve so we sat on the invisible border, guided by the GPS, and watched distant fins and vapor blows as the small Orca pod slowly swam up strait about 200 to 300 meters away. These sightings can try the patience of Job, so after about an hour of that, a bobbing lunch on the boat and a washroom break badly needed we headed for Telegraph Cove. No encouraging news blared out over the radio so we decided to head towards Billy Proctor's museum. Just across the strait lies Stubbs Island and the Plumper Islands. which is the mouth of Knight Inlet, where we spotted a Humpback Whale. We followed it at a respectful distance for half an hour or so then off we were again. A large flock of gulls were busily diving on the water so I decided to investigate that. Hundreds of gulls, scores of Rhinoceros Auklets and Common Murres were diving into a Herring Ball, feeding and screaming frantically over this bounty. I parked the boat about 50 feet away and shut down the big engines so we could all take in this spectacle. Soon the Bald Eagles joined in, scattering the gulls. The eagles lined up like at a busy airport, one after the other, gliding in and picking herring out of the water. None of us had ever seen such a feeding frenzy, such spectacular flying abilities or such numbers of birds all working to pick up an easy meal. For 10 minutes we watched , as the birds combined with the beautiful flat water and spectacular scenery held us spell bound. Suddenly from the dark depths rose a dark Leviathan, like an island emerging from the deep, a humpback whale spouted amongst the frantic birds. Another quickly followed, then a third whale rose to take in a mouthful of herring and just as quickly sink back into the depths. None of us could believe what we had just witnessed. Over and over the whales emerged to blow and eat, scattering the protesting flocks to the safety of the skies above. Even a few Pacific White Sided Dolphins joined in to feed. For half an hour we sat there quietly, taking in one of Mother Natures great events, a sight I am sure will stay with us all for a long time. We headed home, knowing that the little creatures of the strait had provided us, once again, memories for a highlight reel on our holiday and job. I get paid to do this!

No comments:

Post a Comment