Dock Talk

Whale Watching in the Broken Group Islands

Canadian Princess Resort - June 7, 2011

We’re off to the Broken Group Islands for an afternoon of whale watching. On our way out, we pass under circling bald eagles as we leave the Ucluelet harbour. California Sea Lions lie lazily on the piers as they soak up the afternoon sun.

As we enter the Broken Group, we pass colonies of Steller Sea Lions, a different species from the California Sea Lion. The Steller Sea Lions don’t have a pronounced forehead like their California cousins and are lighter in colour. We pause a good distance from the animals to observe them while giving them adequate space. The females eagerly jump into the water and within seconds, they are checking us out from next to our boat; they are very curious of their friendly visitors.

I am happy to share my education in Marine Biology with those onboard. It is one thing to look at beautiful animals and another to learn the answers to why and how these animals of the sea live. As we pass by different islands our skipper Don, who has been touring these waters for over 10 years with the Princess, yields some insight into the migratory roots of these magnificent creatures over the course of their summer. We pass historical sights of the Tseshaht tribe, a 1st1:placename w:st="on">Benson Island which can be found within the Broken Group. It is fascinating and an honour to share parts of their rich culture with the eager ears of those on the boat.

As we all sip hot chocolate and coffee, I have almost forgotten about the whales as we meander through small channels, observing pristine beaches and the rocky shores of the Broken Group Islands, of which there are over 100. We pass by a small bay and there in the shallows we encounter a young Grey Whale, resting as it bobs up and down in the water. It takes a deep breath and dives but surfaces a short time later in the exact same spot. It has been over two years since I have studied these magnificent creatures in this area and I find it just as exciting as the first time I laid eyes on the Grey Whale for the first time.

The sun is setting now and as Don tells us tales of the rum runners and sunken ships hidden throughout this magical place, we head home. Even though we are on a whale watching tour, this experience has proven to be so much more. I look forward to a summer full of travels through these very special and unique waters.

From the bridge,

-Chris White