Whale watching makes a splash

Humpback whale tail slapping

We know what is happening not sure why it is happening. The “Whale Trust website” says the tail lob or tail slap occurs when the whale extends its tail fluke above the water and slaps it forcibly down on the surface. This can be “right way up”, slapping the underneath side of the flukes on the water, or the reverse, with the whale belly-up slapping the dorsal (top-side) of the flukes on the water. This often, but not always, occurs many (35+) times in a row. As with the other behaviors, the meaning behind this behavior is unknown, but it has been speculated that it may be a way to ward off other whales, or to the contrary, to invite other whales to join a group. The explanation seems clear as mud but is sure exciting to watch.  This photo by Gary Wilson was from the area of Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island.


Brown Bear Knight Inlet BC

Grizzly / Brown Bear

Is photo by Tim O’Neil of a brown bear or a grizzly bear? It’s either or both, because these are common names that have no scientific basis. Grizzly bears received their name because their brown fur can be tipped with white. This gives them a “grizzled” look, especially when blacklit by the sun. All the bears in North America are the same subspecies except one subspecies that occurs in the Kodiak Island.  The bears in BC’s rainforest are known as grizzly bears.  The Knight Inlet grizzly’s colour ranges from a very light brown which is almost yellow in some bears and almost white in others to a dark brown which may appear black.


Orca Identification on Whale Watching Safari


Tim O’Neil does it again, an excellent photo of A72.  Resident and transient orca along the coast of British Columbia have photo identification catalogues that make use their unique dorsal fin and saddle patch to identified each orca. Some ID’s are easy and this is one of the easy ones.  The notch in the front of this female’s fin identifies her, as A72 she was born in 1999 daughter of A50 born is 1964. A50 is daughter of the pod’s matriarch A30 born in 1947. The Orcas live in a matriarchal community. The females live much longer than the males, and therefor have more valuable experiences, which make them the dominant.  The males stay with their mother all their life and breed outside their pod. The pods are named after the dominant female in this case A30 and they are members of the northern resident orcas which spend the summer in the waters north of Campbell River close to Telegraph Cove in the Johnstone Strait. 


Humpback Whale lunge feeding


Click on photo to enlarge
Click on photo to enlarge

An add on to yesterday’s posting Luwen & Liwen from Singapore have provides an excellent photo of a humpback whale lunge feeding in the waters off Blackfish Sound’s Bold Head a short boat ride from Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island. A whale watching trip from the lodge involves a fifty minute boat ride to this area where there is an abundance of marine life including pacific white-sided dolphins, dall’s porpoise, harbour porpoise, harbour seals, steller sea lions, orca, a variety of birdlife including eagles, common murre, surf scooter, rhinocerous auklet, pigen guillemot, marbled murrelet, great blue heron, cormorants, storm petrels, and a large variey of “sea gull”. Added to this is a good chance of seeing a black bear on the way to the area.


Dall’s Porpoise – Johnstone Strait

Dall's Porpoise

No this is not a baby orca it is a Dall’s Porpoise often called a “false orca”.  To be honest it is the only picture of a dall’s porpoise that I have in my blog collection and I have allot of photos from allot of guests and Tim O’Neil from the UK is the only one that I know that has a decent photo.  It took quit a bit of maneuvering in the boat and much patience on Tim’s part to get this picture.  As you can see it from the photo it was a perfect day whale watching in the area of Johnstone Strait near Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island.   A dall’s porpoise lays claim to being the fastest marine mammal. “Some marine mammals can swim at relatively high speeds. Sea lions swim up to 35 kph and orcas can reach 50 kph. The fastest marine mammal, however, is the common dolphin, which reaches speeds up to 64 kph.” quote from  http://marinebio.org


Grizzly Bear “at work”


After August 25 the grizzly bear watching takes place from viewing stands on Knight Inlet’s Glendale River.  A classic pose after a good catch.  A salmon in the mouth is the reasons the bears come to this part of British Columbia’s coast and also the reason we come.


Wildlife Viewing – Black Bears





Grizzly bear and in this case black bear cubs stay pretty close to mum especially when they are new born or first year cubs.  They are not quite in step but never far behind. The first photo was taken on one of the “first evening in camp” trips that is normally a guests first boat trip of their stay. A good low tide and the bears come out to play / eat.  The second photo is from the morning grizzly bear tour up Knight Inlet all safari trips whether for grizzlies or whales often involve black bears in this case a mother and three cubs.


Not sedge grass

The previous day’s blog show the food grizzly bears eat in the spring.  Our guests frequently comment on the quality and quantity of good food provided for meals.  From the seafood dinners served by your guides (we are versatile employees) to the self-serve picnic lunches. Although our “wilderness lodge” requires a floatplane flight from Campbell River it does not mean we “rough-it” for meals.


Spring Grizzly Bears


In the spring the grizzly bears we view on lodges wilderness tours are primarily grazers.  They some down to the shores of Knight Inlet to eat the sedge grass which is very high in protein this sustains them until the salmon enter the rivers of British Columbia’s coast in mid-August. The morning grizzly bear tour uses 18 to 20 foot boats to travel up Knight Inlet to the Glendale River where we transfer to smaller flat bottom boats that allow us to drift along the shore to watch and hear the bears eating.

Grizzly Bear Swimming


Grizzly bears are great swimmers and are commonly seen in the water in the river estuaries of BC’s Knight Inlet.  They swim so well that they have now migrated across Johnstone Strait to Vancouver Island and this is between one and a half to a two-mile swim.  The area biologists but radio collars on ten grizzly bears about eleven years ago and one of them crossed Knight Inlet five times.