Whales and Totems
The early summer salmon migration heralds the seasonal return of the orcas to the Blackfish Sound area. It’s one of the richest marine habitats in the world. This island labyrinth, steeped in aboriginal history and culture, boasts diverse ecosystems and spectacular beauty. It’s a kayakers dream! Located some 175 miles NW of Vancouver in BC’s Inside Passage, this myriad of islands lies between Port McNeill, Northern Vancouver Island and the BC mainland. On any given day, cruising this island paradise, we may have an orca pod breaching, swimming alongside or sounding beneath our bow. We eavesdrop on their vocalizations by deploying our hydrophone. Dozens of Dall's porpoise or Pacific white-sided dolphins may escort us, riding the bow wave or frolicking alongside. The seasonal salmon migrations, feedstock for these mammals, also support the local sport fish industry. A fresh salmon or halibut dinner barbequed or cedar planked is not to be missed! Fresh Dungeness crab and shellfish complement Sonia’s West Coast cuisine.
We will visit an abandoned Kwakwaka’wakw village site built on a 4,000 year old midden and learn the authentic history of their ancestral potlatch traditions. This will be delivered in full button blanket regalia by the grandson of former Chief Sewid before this ancient village’s lodge posts. The U’Mista Cultural Centre, renowned for its unparalleled collection of potlatch masks and regalia will be a focus of our stop at Alert Bay, Cormorant Island. A Native guided tour will include the new Big House and the world’s tallest totem pole, as well as an aboriginal graveyard of mortuary poles. Learn about the cedar Tree of Life wich was essential to Native survival.
Kayak these glacier-hued waters, photograph Spanish moss-draped conifers, granite islets, ravens, bears, eagles and sea lions. Summer daylight in these latitudes stretches past 10pm. This Archipelago, like our entire coast, is to be enjoyed, treasured and protected. Ongoing stewardship requires a sustained philosophy of ‘no trace’ touring. ‘Take nothing but photos and memories...leave nothing but footprints.'