There is never a dull moment on the water for our guides, however, some moments are certainly more memorable than others. Below are some highlights from this past summer for our guides - Travis, Ronnie, and Brady.
It was a cool, semi overcast morning, with a slight breeze and small to moderate seas. This morning I had a pelagic tour which was my first time running this special program. We set out and cruised 24 miles offshore. The purpose of a pelagic tour is for bird watching.
There was a long line tuna boat off shore with an upsetting amount of Vermillion Snapper by-catch. There were hundreds of dead fish floating. How often does this happen? The by-catch brings an abundant amount of species to feed but needs serious evaluation. We witnessed a Salmon Shark with one end of a Vermillion and a black footed albatross on the other playing tug of war. The shark won.
While we spotted many species of birds and the birders were stoked on the Laysan Albatross we found, it wasn’t a bird that captured my memory. It was three whales, a species I had never seen in all my time on the water that blew me away. FIN WHALES!! the second largest whales in our ocean. It was amazing! The absolute size of these animals traveling in 3200 feet of water is humbling. While our time with them was short, it was also unexpected. I love that no day is ever the same out here on the ocean.
- Travis Stel
THE BITTER SWEET OF TOFINO'S SUMMER
Fog forms when warm moist air passes over the cold coastal waters off Tofino. The bitter sweet of Tofino’s summer. We have about 27 miles of coastline to cover in hopes of finding whales that have decided to stop in for snacks. In these conditions I had to tell myself to be patient, slow cruise, listen for a spout, maybe even smell the mucus from its breathing tubes. You couldn’t tell where the sky met the fog met the water met the sky.
Spotting the reefs off of Flores island was a welcome sight confirming that we were still on course close to shore. I’m looking for seals hauled out on the rocks, possibly a sea otter wrapped up in the kelp. Travelling at harbour speed we start to circumnavigate the rocks where we ended up finding some curious harbour seals on the north side. Just as I began to speak of the highly evolved pinnipeds “HELLO!” a massive trust of air broke the surface of the water at amazing speed and to our surprise, a large Gray Whale had decided, in the thick grey fog, to make its presence known...the sweet side of a foggy Tofino summers day.
- Ron L’Amoreaux
A GRATEFUL MOMENT
We left the dock for a late bear watch on a calm and quiet October evening. Many bears had been drawn away from their usual territories to the rivers that were swelling with spawning salmon. With a report of orca travelling up Tofino Inlet, I decided to head to the headwaters of the rivers up the inlet in hopes of finding a bear and maybe even lucking into a sighting of orcas.
As we entered Tsapee Narrows I received a report of a pair of wolves swimming across the channel to Meares Island. I arrived just as they went into the forest. We shut down and drifted on the ebb tide waiting to see if we could get another glimpse. Suddenly a lone wolf walked out of the forest, sauntered towards the shoreline and stared right at us. Nobody moved a muscle nor made a sound. After a few moments she stretched and laid down right on the beach in front of us. We watched in awe and eventually drifted away from her and continued up Tofino Inlet.
Just as we were rounding Woman Island near the head of the spectacular Tofino inlet I spotted the dorsal fins and blows of a gang of Transient Orcas. I idled over to the cliffs of Woman Island to give the whales a clear passage out of the channel and shut down our engines. Again we sat in stunned silence as the pod languished in the calm waters of the inlet. They began breaching, tail slapping and pectoral slapping as they passed through the narrow canyon. Their exhalation blows and impacts were echoing off the cliffs and mountains around us. Each breach sounded like a bomb explosion as they passed through the channel.
Finally on the way back out of the inlet we encountered a sow bear feeding on crab in the intertidal zone. For a third time our crew sat in reverential silence as watched her flipping boulders and eating crab. We could hear her breathing and crunching with each crab she caught. She fed along the shoreline closer to us and eventually passed around the corner, giving us the opportunity to start the engines and break the silence. After discussing all three predator encounters we made our way back to Tofino at sunset.
After so many years watching these amazing predators it was so memorable to see all three on the same trip, without another soul around besides our crew. I was grateful that my passengers were as in awe of each encounter as I was.
- Brady Clarke