Often asked for favourite whale sighting locales, we are drawn season after season to the upper coasts. The rubbing beach and salmon runs of the Robson Bight / Broughton Archipelago area is within easy, economic access for our charter guests, fuel and supplies. The very remoteness of the experience heightens the thrill of all sightings. In the Great Bear Rainforest, when a whale encounter occurs, we’re often the only ship in the vicinity.
Biologists divide whales, or cetaceans, into two groups: the Odontoceti, or toothed whales, and the Mysticeti, or baleen whales. The Odontocetes (orcas, dolphins and porpoises) use their teeth to grasp their prey, mainly fish and squid. Mysticetes (humpbacks, grays and minkes) feed by engulfing plankton or schools of small fish with their mouths, then swallowing their prey after expelling the water.
On any given day, cruising our coastal waters, you may have an orca pod echolocating its daily diet of salmon; foraging, blowing and breaching, spyhopping or tail lobbing, sounding for minutes at a time or shallow diving beneath our bow. We eavesdrop on their vocalizations by deploying our ship’s hydrophone. Dozens of Dall’s porpoise or their larger cousins, Pacific white-sided dolphins, may dazzle us with aerial acrobatics, jockey for position on our bow wave or frolic alongside. Once you’ve experienced the explosive airborne breach of 30 tons of whale within a few boat lengths of your camera…you’re hooked! With daylight extending beyond 10pm, our days are full of opportunities for awe-inspiring encounters.
A video camera has proven the most effective equipment for capturing those ‘Kodak moments’ on film. Couples with telephoto-equipped cameras and video cameras working together often score the best mix of action and frame-filling close ups.