Blackfish Sound and Alert Bay

Sep 24, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Bird


The morning was all soft weather and cool temperatures, and as is usual aboard National Geographic Sea Bird the day just got better and better! We were cruising north along Vancouver Island and entered Blackfish Sound where we encountered a large number of Steller sea lions hauled-out on the rocks. I counted 40 before they started diving into the water and I could not keep a good count. We watched the sea lions for a while and moved further into the sound where we found ourselves in the middle of a huge humpback whale picnic. The humpbacks put on a great show for us by breaching, slapping flukes, waving pectoral fins, and generally cavorting like kids at a picnic. Humpback whales surrounded us! We could see them from fore, aft, and amidships.

The afternoon found us in Alert Bay warmly welcomed by the ‘Namgis people. We explored the U’mista Cultural Center where we watched a film and saw artifacts relating to the ceremonial activities known as the potlatch. We were then treated to a sampling of songs and dances in full regalia by the ‘Namgis youth illustrating the ceremonies that take place during a potlatch. To top off an exciting afternoon we were treated to barbequed salmon and fry bread with blackberry jam. Yum!

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About the Author

Owen Walker

Cultural Specialist

Owen B Walker was born in Moab, Utah and raised in very rural North Idaho. He graduated high school in Palmer, Alaska, where Northwest Native Art first stirred his soul. After achieving a degree in Sociology/Anthropology from Western Washington University, Owen focused on pre-historic peoples and places of the Pacific Northwest.  This interest and his 40 plus years of living and working in the rural Pacific Northwest awakened a spiritual connection, which he chooses to express thru Northwest Coast Native Art. 

About the Photographer

Emily Mount

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Emily grew up in Niwot, Colorado and Pullman, Washington. Her love of nature began as a child during family vacations spent hiking, camping and exploring the mountains and deserts of the west. In contrast to her outdoors interests, Emily pursued an intensive young career as a classical violinist, culminating in degrees in history and music performance at the University of Washington.  

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