Nutrient rich waters of the northeast pacific, along with oceanographic and geographic conditions, allow marine life to flourish on the coasts of BC & Alaska.
Summer plankton blooms, swarms of microscopic animal life, provide food for a multitude of species. Rocky shorelines, underwater sea mounts, eel grass beds, and large tracks of kelp forests provide important habitat.
From the insanely bizarre mola mola (sun fish) to the incredibly brilliant giant green anemone, marine life on this coast takes on every form, color, and biological niche imaginable. Barnacles and mussels cover rocky shore lines at high tide, sea stars, tube worms and anemones make home in the sub-tidal, and rock fish and halibut take refuge in deeper waters around sea mounts and kelp fronds.
Drift along a kelp bed and one may find a myriad of wonders. Hooded nudibranchs, a white translucent sea slug with a feeding appendage at one end, clings to blades of giant kelp. When pulled out of the water these dazzling creatures smell strongly of watermelon! Decorator crabs and kelp crabs creep along stipes of seaweed foraging on morsels of plankton. Kelp encrusting bryzoa cover bull kelp fronds, appearing like patches of lichen, but rather are colonies of tiny animals.
Many of these and other forms of marine life are reliant on kelp forests. These large tracks of giant brown algae create underwater forest habitat and refugia for fish, invertebrates, and even a very unique marine mammal, sea otters. In fact, the sea otter plays a key role in maintaining the critical habitat by feeding heavily on sea
urchins, a spiny invertebrate, that preys upon kelp. Without the sea otter, urchins will literally mow a forest into a barren landscape. Stripped of habitat, nutrients, and species, once “forested” seascapes become urchin barrens. Thanks in-part to sea otters, kelp forests surround the coastline, and if watching ever so carefully you just might find rafting sea otters nested in the kelp gorging on a sea urchin lunch.
Throughout our tours we delight in our shoreline excursions to uncover the many colors and life forms that cling to sea walls, hide beneath kelp, and nestle into tide pools. Expert naturalists explain the intricacies of these creatures lives and how they fit into the web of life. A world unknown to you before is revealed through exploration, discovery, and interpretation.
All of our trips provide excellent opportunities to view, learn about, and interact with marine life.