Captain’s Blog

A Month In Port Renfrew

July 25, 2018

As I sit in reflection on our last month here in Port Renfrew, I can’t stop the smile on my face. What is a tour out here really like? What are we seeing?

My first thoughts are that it centers you. Brings you back to nature in a way you don’t expect. From the breathtaking ocean carved shores and soaring ancient trees, to the abundant life that chooses to live and feed here. Mornings on the dock are spent watching countless birds in their daily routines. From eagles fishing out of the ocean a stones throw away to the small cedar wax wing birds picking berries from the bushes above you.

The weather itself seems alive. One second you are in hot sunshine and the next moment fog is creeping through the trees and covering the indentation that is Port San Juan. We seem to be caught in this protected bubble, with winds howling in the center of the Juan de Fuca Strait and off shore of Cape Flattery and Carmanah Lighthouse. Most tours are spent in winds no greater than 15 knots. The great Pacific Ocean brings in large swells that add great exhilaration to the open boat experience. Seals and sea lions haul out along the historical west coast hiking trail. The main steller sea lion haul out at Carmanah light is particularly epic with hundreds in sight.

The whales. Where to begin? The behaviour and number of humpback whales witnessed is staggering. To see first hand the recovery from the tragic days of whaling brings me the greatest joy. We have so much still to learn about them. Why are they in groups of twos and threes and than suddenly you have a group of 14? Is it for feeding? Social? Is it the same whales each time? Where are they migrating from? We are now working with the Happy Whale Project in hopes of answering some of these questions. Happy Whale is a collective of researchers, naturalist, and whale lovers sharing photo identification shots of the underside of their tails. These photos are then matched with an algorithm to figure out where they have been spotted around the world. It give us a better understanding of the percentages from which breeding ground come to this area to feed. Its also a way to keep track of whales that recover from entanglement and the survival rates to follow. It is my recent mission to learn as much about this super group of humpbacks we have been seeing. What is even better is that you the guest get to be part of this experience. Any of your photos can be submitted by you and you will be kept in the loop on any information known about that animal!

This month has also received sights of the Southern Resident Killer Whales on their way into Victoria and out in search of fish as well as transient killer whales paroling the shorelines for small mammals such as seals and sea lions. I am always on the look out for the unexpected. Every tour is different. You can never predict the weather and certainly not the wildlife but you can expect to come to Renfrew and reconnect yourself with the wild.

Cheers,
Sarah

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