Within the 6.4 million hectares of land dedicated as the Great Bear Rainforest, a maze of small waterways winds amongst many small islands. We had the opportunity to explore this area, specifically a place called the Sue Channel Provincial Park. As we set off on Zodiac tours in search of beautiful views and possibly wildlife, boats full of guests were greeted from afar by the spouts of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) as they passed through the channel on their travels. The steep, rocky walls that make up the coastline made the search for animals more difficult, but as the tide dropped, small inlets and meadows presented themselves as the perfect spots to catch a rare glimpse of coastal land mammals and other wildlife. For a very brief moment, several guests caught a glimpse of an American black bear (Ursus americanus) foraging on sedges and berries before it darted back into the tree line. Throughout the morning, the search continued. Guests in Zodiacs were treated to incredible views of the peaceful, protected nature around them. The adventure continued as we transited back to Prince Rupert while we scanned the coastlines and looked for humpback whales. We were even treated to a serendipitous, singular breach from one charismatic whale in the distance. The night ended with one last chance to take advantage of the area’s remote nature. We stargazed from the bow in the pitch black of this undeveloped area.
National Geographic Venture
Prince Rupert is a township in northern British Columbia with a modern history that only dates back to around 1906. At that time, Charles Hays found Kaien Island to be the perfect place to settle a town for the terminus to the Grand Trunk Railway. Our day was filled with many different experiences for all the guests. The Butze Rapids Trail is found on the outskirts of Prince Rupert. We took an upbeat walk through not only old growth forest but also a bit of a muskeg environment. About a quarter of the way through the loop trail, the lookout point provided spectacular views of Fern Passage. This narrow body of water surrounds Kaien Island, and it ebbs and flows with the changing tides, occasionally causing intense rapids. Another group of guests opted for a guided tour of the North Pacific Cannery, last known to operate in the late 1970s. Established in 1889, the cannery processed and packaged salmon for almost 90 years. Guests were eager for the chance to explore and photograph such an important National Historic Site. Those of us who chose to forego the guided option experienced the town of Prince Rupert by way of our own paths. Some guests chose to walk to the Rushbrook Trail, while others were educated when they visited the Museum of Northern B.C. No matter what activity we ended up doing, the day provided impeccable weather and scenery for the first full day of this intrepid voyage.