This Blog was written by our dear friend Jenn Dickie
Our day started bright and early as we pulled away from Whale Point to the type of glorious morning that makes getting up at the crack of dawn a worthwhile endeavor.
Michael Scholl from the Save Our Seas Foundation with his stepson Yoann joined us, and with a cup of coffee in hand, camera in the other, we headed out on our whale survey at 6am. The first stop would be to see if we could ID the two whales that Janie had noticed at the mouth of Whale Channel. Our plan for the day was to have a quick look at these two then head north in Squally to see if we could find the fin whales that had been reported in the area, make a stop in Hartley Bay to top off the fuel supply then poke around a little to see what we could find.
Over the next 2 hours we came across 10 humpback whales, all seemed to be heading in a southerly direction. In order to ID a humpback whale it is necessary to photograph the underside of their fluke (as each is as unique as a fingerprint) and with just one whale remaining to ID, who was refusing to fluke, we carried on following it south. The 5 minutes we had allotted this whale turned into 30 and the line that divided the glassy calm seas where we were, from the choppier waters to the south kept moving further into the distance. Something was pulling us south! Before we knew it we were half way across Caamano Sound, heading in the opposite direction to our planned route. After a call from Nicole and Bunker at the Gitga’at cabin on Rennison Island notifying us that the bubble net feeding group had been spotted nearby, and confirmation from Hermann that the fuel we were to pick up in Hartley Bay was not critical, we decided to stop fighting the flow and follow these whales to the south. We said goodbye to our resting whale, who never did fluke, and were off across Caamano Sound.
We arrived at the Wall Islets just as the feeding group surfaced and for the next two hours we followed them as they made their way into the calmer waters of Bouchaman channel.
In the time we were with them the group grew from 6 whales to 14 as a number of the whales we had seen earlier in the day further north arrived and joined in. I doubt there are many spectacles in nature so remarkable as watching 14 enormous mammals breaching the surface of the water, in unison, mouths open to gorge on what I can only assume must be a massive school of hearing. This feeling was enforced later that evening when we got to see what this looked like from the air, thanks to the incredible drone footage that Michael managed to make of the final bubble net of the day.
As if the day had not been spectacular enough, when we returned back to Squally Channel we were greeted by a humpback calf who had gaining a little freedom from Mom and decided to do a some breaching and head lobbing before stopping by the boat to say hello.
A few moments later Mom showed up to put an end to the play and usher it away. Time to go home?? Apparently not… 3 more blows in the distance, and as we approached to investigate, the fin whales we had originally been seeking appeared.
After 12 + hours on the water, all but 40 minutes was spent in the company of whales. I have since identified 28 whales we met in 10 separate encounters, some of whom travelled the same 40 miles that we did over the course of the day. We returned to Whale Point, thrilled with our day in the Greatbear Rainforest, which never seems to disappoint!!!