Sunday, August 13, 2023

A Whale Whisper Onboard


First, we welcomed our family, Deb and Ralph, to the boat.  They are experienced visitors to the Great Bear Rainforest and we always enjoy the time together.  They came a little earlier than usual and found that the fish were smaller and more difficult to find.  

But all went well until....

After absconding with Ralph's very big salmon, he and five of his friends surround the boat hopefully waiting! Not a chance!!!

As is traditional, we enjoyed our crab and salad dinner!


Our next guests were our friends from Chicago Stacy and George.  It was a whirlwind, first trip to the Great Bear Rainforest and a unique experience for Chicagoans.

The first day at Purple Bluff was wonderful  They were hearty souls, enjoying salmon fishing and the scenery.

Eagle nests are always impressive but this one particularly so.  Like all eagle nests, it is builtwith an eye toward predators.  Nests are about 5 feet wide, several feet deep and can weigh up to 3 tons.  Eagles sit in their nest and watch carefully for discarded scrap fish to feed their young.  It is spectacular to have them sweep down a few feet behind the boat and snatch up lunch for the kids.

Although new to downrigger fishing, they proved to be adept learners catching 3 Chinook salmon and a coho.  The coho are very late this year.

The Whale Whisperer

When the whales heard their Puerto Vallarta friend, Stacy, was coming to their Northern grounds, they greeted her (and us) with a spectacular show.  She knows them well and they have a unique bond.  But such a show we did not expect.

The announcement of their presence was a humpback-shaped double blow letting us know that we were watching at least two whales and one was a calf.  We came to a stop at a respectful and safe distance.

Whale calves, at birth, are about 18 feet long and weigh nearly 100 lbs.  They drink blubber milk twice a dayeach.  Each feeding is about 50 gallons and they gain up to 100 lbs a day.  At a few months they start eating "adult food" such as bait fish and krill.  This cow and calf appear to be lunge feeding where they stun their prey to strain through the baleen (toothlike structures) in the mouth.

The cow appears to have a mouthful of bait fish that she has scooped and is straining.  Note her pink tongue which is the size of a small car and fits in a mouth that is 10 feet wide.

Here she goes again stunning the bait fish by lunging backward.  Note the barnacles on her rostrum (knobby head bumps).

Adult whales weigh up to 40 tons and have flukes as much as 18 feet across.  This calf had flukes of about 7 feet.  The calf will gain up to 100 lbs per day and will, as an adult, be 55 feet long.  The calf will stay with its mother for about a year and will quit growing after 10 years.  Life expectacy is up to 90 years.

What a treat for all of us!

Thank you, Stacy, for your whale whispering talents.  Sorry, George, we didn't even get a photo of your two halibut...

But we did have a nice crab dinner...

Traditional crab dinner!

Once again we are reminded of our blessings, one of which is sharing those blessings to include our time in the Great Bear Rainforest.