VIDEO: Breaches, belly-flops and a close encounter with humpback whales

A wildlife tour of a lifetime for some visitors to Vancouver Island

When Erica Farrell booked a wildlife/adventure tour for her family, visiting from England, she was ever hopeful.

A whale, maybe… perhaps a small pod.

What they got was more than anyone could have expected. Even the tour guide was beaming at day’s end.

The six-hour tour produced a family of orcas, a shoreline of sea lions, and a dozen humpback whales breaching, belly-flopping, and swimming right up to the boat.

“Since I’ve been doing these tours, 20 years, that was probably one of my top 10 of all time,” said Garry Henkel, owner/operator of Aboriginal Journeys. “I’ve done more than 3,000 tours, but today was a special day. Some days you just see humpbacks. Some days you just see orcas. Some days, you just see spouts. But today was special. I don’t get to do this often.”

Orcas at play in Desolation Sound. (Terry Farrell/Comox Valley Record)

The British contingent was awed.

“Almost speechless with admiration for the beauty, the wildlife,” said Erica’s mother, Brenda Nevard, who was visiting Vancouver Island for the first time. “Difficult to put into words. A once in a lifetime experience.”

Brenda’s son, Phil Nevard, and his wife, Lythan, were equally impressed, not only with the wildlife experience, but with Henkel’s expertise as well.

“It was great to have such a knowledgeable guide with a First Nations’ respect for nature and the sea,” said Phil.

“It was one of the best days of my life and to be out with someone who respects the animals and is as excited to see them as we are was amazing,” added Lythan.

A humpback goes for a deep dive.(Photo by Erica Farrell)

Henkel said the re-emergence of humpback whales to the area has made the adventure tour experience that much better.

“We never used to see any humpbacks here until probably the last four or five years,” said Henkel. “Many, many years ago, they were hunted, back in the 1800s, early 1900s… almost hunted to extinction. I think they are making a comeback now finally because there’s less pressure on them, and because there’s a lot of krill.

“It’s great, because we used to just look for orcas and dolphins and stuff, but now we have the humpbacks as well so it really adds to the experience.”

Erica’s son, Ian Bowen of Grande Prairie, Alta., was also on the boat.

“We’re very lucky as Canadians to have this in our backyard,” he said.

Henkel concurred.

“There’s not many places in the world you can see that – orcas and humpbacks,” said Henkel. “In our area, in September, now you can sometimes see orcas, humpbacks, grizzly bears, black bears and sometimes dolphins, all in one day.”

For more information on adventure tours, visit http://www.aboriginaljourneys.com/

Just Posted

Walk into the forest in the Showcase Gallery

Group exhibit is focussed on trees

More Than Wood Art Gallery in 100 Mile House shows off artists

‘There is so much talent. It’s amazing’

Chekhov’s gun

A weekly family column for the 100 Mile Free Press

What are you doing on your Christmas break?

Megan Balbirnie 103 Mile House “I’m probably staying home then we’re going… Continue reading

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

B.C. city considers scrapping funds for Christmas decorations

Victoria city coun. Ben Isitt doesn’t think the government should pay for any religious symbols

Well-known B.C. snowmobile guide killed in rollover accident

Shuswap sledding communty mourns loss of experienced Sicamous snowmobiler

BCHL player lifts Canada West to second win at World Junior A Challenge

Chilliwack Chiefs player has a three-point performance

Climate change, receding glaciers increase landslide risk on B.C.’s Mount Meager

Climate change is causing glaciers atop Mount Meager, in British Columbia, to shrink increasing the chances of landslides and even a new eruption, says one expert.

UK’s May lobbies EU leaders in fight to save Brexit deal

Top European Union officials ruled out Tuesday any renegotiation of the divorce agreement with Britain.

Former Canadian diplomat detained in China amid rising tensions: reports

A former Canadian diplomat has been arrested in China, according to media reports and the international think tank he works for.

In depth: Simple falls causing serious injuries to people over 65

Kelowna’s high population of seniors puts it in the spotlight for how it deals with seniors’ issues

Most Read