Many mornings in August and September start with a low layer of fog over the area surrounding Grizzly Bear Lodge. This fog is short lived as it normally burns off by noon. The boat used for whale watching is equipped with radar and all the guides have a personal GPS with routes programmed to allow them to navigate in the fog. Whale watching is not a “solo” experience as we are in radio contact with two or three others “whale watchers” and share our search. Unlike Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island a busy day in our area may involve eight boats watching whales in a rather large area while Victoria may have fifty boats in a similar sized area. This photo is of a male resident orca that passed beneath the boat as surfaced in the fog.
The last 3 years we have been starting to view sea otters in our area more regularly. They are still often a distance away, but the sightings are increasing with some “rafts” of them developing in areas near the western portion of our whale watching trips. These animals were hunted heavily for their fur and were completely wiped out of British Columbia waters. Re-introduction occurred from Alaskan otters in the 1960’s. They have long been protected and their numbers have been steadily increasing along the exposed BC coast and are now moving back into inside waters. They are unique in that they don’t have the insulating blubber that other marine mammals use to keep warm. As a result they have dense (over 1 million hairs per square inch) fur and feed heavily. They are important in balancing the eco-system. They eat a lot of sea urchins, which eat a lot of kelp. Kelp is extremely important as it provides cover for juvenile fish and is where the herring spawn in the early spring. With the increase in these otters we are seeing a greater abundance and healthier kelp forests.Visit our Blog