Blackfish Sound and Alert Bay

Oct 04, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Bird


The day dawned bright and crisp. We entered Blackfish Sound and spotted a pod of killer whales hassling a Steller sea lion. The whales were keeping the sea lion in the middle of the pod and maneuvering him back and forth. He finally escaped and swam to a large colony of sea lions that were making a huge racket. We later saw the killer whales trying to corner a Pacific white-sided dolphin, so we assumed they were the sea mammal-eating Biggs Pod.

We were later proved wrong when we saw the killer whales eating fish. They left the sea mammals alone and put on a great show for those on board National Geographic Sea Bird. As we watched the killer whale pod, all around us were humpbacks feeding, harbor porpoises, sea lions, and Pacific white-sided dolphins.

Our day continued on an upward spiral as we docked in Alert Bay to meet the Kwakwaka'wakw people. We toured the U’mista Cultural Centre where we heard the flood story of the Namgis tribe and enjoyed the repatriated collection of old potlach regalia. The items were confiscated by the Canadian government in 1911 and returned (in part) in 2002. We also heard music by drummers and singers preparing for a potlatch. Another great day aboard National Geographic Sea Bird!

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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 Pickering

Naturalist/Expedition Diver

Emily was raised by two veterinarians in the mountains of Central Oregon, where she spent much of her time on the back of a horse dreaming about the sea. Her fascination was solidified by visits to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and summers spent gazing into tide pools and listening for killer whales off the coast of British Colombia.  

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