Expedition Spotlight: Northern Vancouver Island

Expedition spotlight: Northern Vancouver Island

We are excited to be offering a new, springtime expedition into the waters of Northern Vancouver Island, one of coastal British Columbia’s richest ecological landscapes. We typically explore this region in the fall, so it’s a unique opportunity to witness the return of life to this spectacular region.

We’ll be offering this expedition in partnership with Sierra Club BC and will be joined by onboard naturalist, Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s Forest and Climate Campaigner.  Jens joined us aboard the Passing Cloud in the Great Bear this spring and we’re excited to welcome him aboard again, to learn about the inner workings of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements and the ongoing monitoring and ecosystem management that continues as a result. “Spring is a great time to be there,” says Sierra Club BC’s, Mark Worthing, who has spent a significant amount of time in the region during this time of year. “The ‘yachties’ haven’t shown up yet so it’s really quiet on the water. More importantly, it’s when the humpbacks begin arriving from warmer waters. There’s been a really exciting ecological resurgence in this area, a boom in humpback whales and dolphins.”

Indeed, Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound are famous for their abundant marine life. The region’s myriad passages, channels, narrows, and upwellings create the perfect conditions to support abundant populations of seals, sea lions, Pacific White-Sided dolphins, porpoises, resident and transient killer whales, humpbacks and seabirds. It’s also located near interior fjord ecosystems featuring healthy numbers of grizzly bears and black bears. Jared Towers, co-founder of the region’s North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association, would like to see this area designated as a Whale Heritage Site. “It’s a place that can prove it has a history of cetacean-related culture and conservation and a history of responsible cetacean-based tourism,” he says.  “It’s also a place where the human inhabitants culturally value cetaceans.”

Our travels through these waters will include not only wildlife viewing and a visit to the Robson Bight Killer Whale Ecological Reserve, a unique protected area where killer whales come to socialize and use the rubbing beaches found there. We’ll also chat with whale researchers at OrcaLab and enjoy Telegraph Cove’s remarkable Whale Interpretive Centre.“I love the depth of culture that takes place there,” says Mark Worthing. “And also the ecological history that’s constantly playing out in front of your eyes. It’s not an easy place to get to. Jens Wieting and Sierra Club BC are looking forward to visiting in style on Passing Cloud and being able to narrate the landscape from both an ecological perspective and a community perspective.”

For more information, the schedule, itinerary, and pricing of our spring Northern Vancouver Island: Whales of Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound expedition.