Great Bear Rainforest: Not Just Bears, Think Bigger…

During our boat trip through the coastal channels of the Great Bear Rainforest, migrating humpback whales were everywhere in the Ale Channel off Gil Island, which leads to the open ocean.

And they could be quite energetic. This one breached 25 times in less than 15 minutes. That requires a formidable amount of energy!

Our most memorable whale encounter required no more than looking down at the water while standing on our boats deck.

I want to emphasize that no marine mammal viewing laws were violated! We were cruising along when two whales were spotted over two hundred meters away, looking very relaxed. Acting on a hunch, the captain shut down the engines and as we slowly drifted the whales approached us and then passed under the boat. Surfacing close by on the other side, after a little while we realized they were rubbing themselves on the hull!

For over an hour the whales moved around the boat, surfacing to port, starboard, aft, and forward, with the passengers and crew running around the deck trying to anticipate their moves. No binoculars were required.

Stinky whale blows were the featured attraction.

Eventually they moved off, as slowly and peacefully as they arrived.

There are two whale research stations in the area, Cetacea Lab and Orca Lab. While their focus is on studying Orcas, they also gather data on other whales when they pass through. We visited Cetacea Lab and enjoyed listening to the researchers describe their work. I noticed a Starlink antenna outside the observation room.

The next day, the boat hosted four researchers from Orca Lab for dinner and it was fun to talk to them and share their enthusiasm for their work! Unfortunately during our trip we did not see any Orcas. But we did have the rare experience of witnessing two huge humpback whales using our vessel as a giant back scratcher.

Next, tracks on the beach

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