On our second day in Telegraph Cove on North Vancouver Island, the weather held and Christy from OrdinaryTraveler.com and I boarded the Stubbs Island Whale Watching boat for a half-day trip searching the local waters for whales – humpbacks and orcas regularly make their homes in the area. Because it was season’s end, the boat wasn’t as full as a typical trip, and the 25 or so of us on board had plenty of room to move around and scope out vantage points.
Telegraph Cove sits on Knights Inlet and provides immediate access to a water landscape filled with marine life. It wasn’t long before we happened upon our first whale – a juvenile humpback. Camera lenses lifted as we all waited to capture the shot of him – doing anything, really. After watching him come to the surface to breath for about 10 minutes, the captain decided it was time to leave the whale in peace.
Naturally, just as I turned around to look behind us, the whale breached magnificently out of the water, thrusting himself skyward and putting on quite the show. Hearing the gasps and “ooohs” and “ahhhs,” I whipped back around, but he was gone, back below the water’s surface. I’d missed it. And no one got a photo, as he’d surprised us all.
We were back underway, the boat cutting through the water. The sky was gray and the wind was chilly, but to be on a boat is always a good time in my book. Off in the distance, we could see huge splashes of water rise up into the air as whales breeched and came back down – one after the other after the other. We were too far off to see the size of the whales, but I could imagine their magnitude just from the displaced water.
After cruising past a rock island covered with seals (so cute!), we made our way back into another cove where orcas had been spotted. We saw a pod of about five or so, some young, making their way along the coastline. They were quickly cutting their way through the water, coming up often to breathe.
While we watched the pod, we spotted another, larger group a little ways out, so we went to see what was happening. Our captain let us know there are two types of orcas in the area – resident and transitory. It’s the transitory orcas that we see dynamic photos of, hunting their prey and tossing it into the air. This pod was identified as transitory.
The captain cut the engine and the boat bobbed over the waves as we all watched the action unfold. While we didn’t see a kill, we did see the orcas breach and dive and the calves even played. For quite awhile, we simply watched the show before us, in awe.
When I cruised to Alaska a few years ago, the only thing I wanted to see was an orca. And now, right before me, more than a dozen swam and ate and just were in their natural habitat – incredible creatures that are still so mysterious to us.
I can’t wait for another chance to see the whales again… perhaps kayaking alongside? That would be a dream come true!
Susan B. Barnes is a travel writer and photographer. A proud Army brat, she was born on a military base in Belgium and has been on the go ever since. While Susan has traveled across the United States and into Canada, she has also managed to visit such European cultural hot spots as Paris, London, Ireland, Athens and Rome, and has even explored the second largest reef in the world off the coast of Belize and the cloud forest of Venezuela, among many other exotic locales. Having learned to rock climb in Yosemite National Park, surf in La Jolla and swim with whale sharks in Mexico, she’s always looking forward to her next adventure. Be sure to follow Susan on Twitter to keep up with her latest adventures @travlin_girl.