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

Kootenay Robusters end 18th paddling season

Women of Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Christina Lake and Grand Forks came together in 2001

Trail bus line readies to takeover Kelowna run

Silver City Stage Lines must have a booking site up by Sept. 30; two vehicles activated by Oct. 26

More burning prohibitions rescinded in southeast B.C.

Category 2 and 3 fires will be permitted in Southeast Fire Centre as of 1p.m. on Wednesday.

Cops For Kids’ southeast B.C. tour rolls on

Annual RCMP fundraiser will see 34 cyclists ride 1,000 kilometres raising funds

Municipal spending outpaces population growth 4-fold in B.C.: report

Canadian Federation of Independent Business has released its annual operational spending report

VIDEO: B.C. deer struggles with life-preserver caught in antlers

Campbell River resident captures entangled deer on camera

Still too many B.C. seniors in care facilities, on drugs

Seniors Advocate watching use of antipsychotics, opioids

Officials: 3 killed in shooting at Maryland Rite Aid centre

FBI described the Aberdeen incident as an ‘active shooter situation’

The hunt for online herb: feds seek dope on hazy world of pot’s ‘cryptomarket’

In less than a month, Canada to be first industrialized country to legalize recreational marijuana

Despite protests, Russia’s anti-doping agency reinstated

On a 9-2 vote, the executive committee declared RUSADA as having satisfied conditions

The longest week: Carolinas worn out by Florence

Frustration and sheer exhaustion are building as thousands of people wait to go home seven days after the storm began battering the coast.

Vancouver councillors move ahead with policy for duplexes on detached home lots

Mayor Gregor Robertson says the decision is another step toward adding homes in the city for the so-called “missing middle.”

Canada’s goal is to play in a medal game at World Cup in Spain

The 2014 women’s world basketball championships were a coming out party for Canada.

Most Read