Discover the Marine Mammals of Northern Vancouver Island

Welcome to the magnificent realm of Northern Vancouver Island, where nature’s wonders unfold in a mesmerizing symphony of life and beauty. Picture yourself aboard Passing Cloud, gliding through narrow passages and island archipelagos, surrounded by a kaleidoscope of marine marvels.

Beneath the surface of these coastal waters lies a world of unparalleled richness and diversity, a paradise for marine life. Here, the intricate dance of ocean currents and tides gives rise to a feeding frenzy of epic proportions. Nutrient-rich waters well up from below, nurturing plankton blooms that sustain a vibrant ecosystem teeming with life.

Amidst this splendour, it is the giants of the sea that truly steal the show. Killer whales, or orcas, gather in these waters each summer and fall, drawn by the abundance of migrating Pacific salmon. These apex predators navigate the narrowing coastlines with precision, their presence signalling an unparalleled spectacle of nature’s drama.

But it’s not just the orcas that captivate. Humpback whales, with their majestic grace, join the chorus of marine life, diving and soaring in pursuit of their prey. Guests aboard Outer Shores Expeditions are afforded a front-row seat to this mesmerizing display, with opportunities to observe, photograph, and learn about these magnificent creatures and their vital roles within the marine ecosystem.

Equipped with underwater hydrophones, adventurers delve into the depths of the ocean’s secrets, listening to the distinct languages of these highly intelligent marine mammals. It is a journey of discovery and a voyage into the heart of understanding and connection with the natural world.

You’ll also get the chance to witness a whole new scientific observation: trap-feeding. The humpback whales of Northern Vancouver Island are generalist-feeders with multiple feeding strategies and techniques, including lunge-feeding and bubble-net feeding. Surprisingly, the Marine Education and Research Society (MERS) team observed something unusual in 2011: a new feeding strategy they’ve called trap-feeding. 

This newly observed feeding phenomena is when a humpback whale remains almost stationary at the surface of the water with its mouth open for an extended period of time before they start spinning about slowly in place, then flicking their pectoral fins before closing their mouth and going down below the surface again. What’s especially remarkable about this observation is that it is a new feeding strategy that researchers have noticed whales are teaching one another. 

And the adventure extends beyond the mind-blowing world of marine marvels. As always, Outer Shores Expeditions offers a holistic experience, blending encounters with marine mammals with explorations of forested landscapes, intertidal ecosystems, and Indigenous cultures deeply rooted in the land and sea.

Highlights of the expedition include visits to the U’Mista Cultural Centre in the Kwakwaka’wakw village of Alert Bay and the Whale Interpretive Centre in Telegraph Cove, where the rich tapestry of cultural and natural heritage unfolds before your eyes.

So, if you yearn for an adventure of a lifetime, a journey into the heart of Northern Vancouver Island’s marine realm, join Outer Shores Expeditions and embark on an experience that will be with you forever. 

Click to learn more about our Northern Vancouver Island expeditions.

Photo by James Thompson Photography


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