Sgang Gwaii & Haida Gwaii | British Columbia

Sep 01, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Lion


It was a foggy, mystical morning as National Geographic Sea Lion made her way southward along the east coast of the Haida Gwaii Archipelago to our anchorage just off the old village site of Sgang Gwaii in the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve. There was a bit of an ocean swell rocking us gently into the spirit of this magical place as we looked expectantly toward the shoreline for glimpses of Sgang Gwaii through the mist. After breakfast, we began a full day of activities with expedition cruises and visits ashore, but the extremely low tide on this new moon day delayed our shore walks until a safe landing could be made. Our stalwart expedition leader went to work with our captain and came up with a new schedule wherein we all had our allotted shore time before the sun set. Expedition cruising at its best!

Cruises by expedition watercraft were wonderful and magical as we cruised in and out of the fog spotting harbor seals hauled out on the rocks, a few Steller sea lions as well as tufted puffins, pelagic cormorants, common murres, and black oystercatchers. The combination of the fog, mists and open ocean swells was intoxicating, and we were filled both with information from our naturalists but also with the spirit of these lands and waters of the ancient and modern Haida people.

Mixed between tours on water, we had the privilege of landing in the Haida homeland village of Sgang Gwaii. The first impression there is a sense of awe, predominating silence and reverence. The poles in all states of disintegration and beauty, left that way by proclamation of the elders in order to honor the natural order of life and subsequent death. The house foundations where, if you listened carefully, you could almost hear the children playing, the adults singing and dancing and the elders spreading wisdom through the village. And all the while, we were being told the stories of the people by the watchmen and watchwomen guides. Some of us then took a walk through the woods to round out our experience of this special place, where some among us claimed even to hear the Haida ancestors calling.

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About the Author

Larry Hobbs

Naturalist

Larry has been involved in marine mammal research and natural history education for over 45 years.  His undergraduate training is in zoology, with graduate work in marine biology.  He also holds a master’s degree in psychology and is a certified counselor in the State of Washington.  In addition to his academic training, Larry has spent many years at sea, including two years as mate or master aboard open-ocean sailing ships.  Larry is a professional photographer and his photographs have appeared in Europe, Asia, Australia and Mexico as well as the United States.

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