Our first day of the voyage dawned bright with our first wildlife sighting of the day, a humpback whale logging near the surface. Those who ventured out of breakfast in time, got a sighting before it disappeared beneath the surface to find its own meal of plankton or forage fish. The rest of the morning was spent in briefings, staff introductions, and how things work aboard the ship, while we cruised northward to our destination at the northern end of Georgia Strait. After lunch we ventured out into Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park to explore a beautiful wilderness of sheltered bays and islets by Zodiacs, kayaks and paddleboards. A few hardy travelers went ashore to bushwhack their way from cove to cove. Towards the end of the day, we cruised northward to our next destination at Alert Bay, British Columbia.
National Geographic Venture
We concluded our expedition in the Pacific Northwest by exploring picturesque Sucia Island, one of the many islands that make up the San Juan Archipelago. Comprised entirely of sedimentary rock and nearly entirely forested, it provided a perfect setting for our last operations of the week. Setting out in almost all directions on the well-manicured trails of this State Park, and from the driftwood strewn beach, we launched our kayaks in the protected waters of Shallow Bay. Still others set out by Zodiac to examine the many nooks and crannies of the shoreline and witness the current and windswept seas bringing productivity to the fish and birds that call these waters home. After wrapping up our morning outings we set out in search of wildlife, cruising the many channels that wind their way through the various islands in the Salish Sea. As luck would have it, we came across a group of 9 Biggs (transient) killer whales. These largest members of the dolphin family are common in these waters but are constantly on the move in search of prey such as harbor seals, porpoises, and Steller sea lions. It would appear this tight-knit family group had just recently made a kill as they were being very playful at times, breaching, tail lobbing, and spy hopping, as well as rolling along the surface in close contact with each other, likely portioning their recent kill. It was a truly grand performance and an iconic and fitting conclusion to our expedition in this rich and diverse area of the world.