Expedition Notes: Whales & Wild Isles, Maple Leaf, 2019

Photo by Phil Stone. Maple Leaf at anchor with visiting orca. (From Haida Gwaii trip a few weeks ago).

July 23, 2019

It’s a beautiful calm morning in Finlayson Channel. S.V. Maple Leaf is steaming southward through the wild isles of the Great Bear Rainforest en route to Port McNeill. Our adventurous guests and hardy crew have been treated to some spectacular wildlife encounters over the past few days. Within minutes of departing Kitimat Village, we encountered the A42 orcas foraging for salmon in Devastation Channel. In light of liquid gold, we watched in awe as they glided along the granite shoreline, the impressive power of A66 and the playful antics of a new calf of the year. In Kitsaway anchorage we watched a group of Great Blue Herons warily watching high flying eagles from their evergreen perches while we surveyed the diverse plantlife along the riparian overhang.

Our second day we visited some quiet hot springs and enjoyed a delightful morning soak amongst the verdant greens of the coastal rainforest. As we returned to Maple Leaf a lone humpback whale delighted us as it glided through the bay. This was only to be the beginning of a day filled with wonderful whale sightings. In Campania Sound, we were overwhelmed with dozens of whales in every direction. Groups bubble-net feeding, multiple breaches, tail lobbing and pectoral fin slapping. There are some very happy whales out there! As we steamed out of Caamano Sound at least 20 fin whales filled the water around us with their gentle, gigantic forms surfacing and blowing about the ship.

A delightful evening was spent anchored in Mickmicking Inlet backdropped by a spectacular west coast sunset. The morning brought a walk on the wild white-sand beaches of Campania Island and a visit to the upland peatland bogs with their birds-eye view of the Estevan Islands and the open Pacific. Southward we head, tucking into the sheltered waters as word of rising winds reaches us on the VHF. More adventures ahead!

– Phil Stone, Mate, SV Maple Leaf