Today was our first day in beautiful British Columbia! After disembarking from the ship, guests had the option to go on a guided tour or spend the day at their leisure. We all were graced with some classic Pacific Northwest weather, which oscillated between sunshine and rain all morning long. Options for tours included a historical walk, a cycling tour, a secret garden tour, an architecture tour, and a tour of the Royal British Columbia Museum. After lunch on the ship, guests embarked on another round of adventures in the sunshine. Appetizer hour was held this evening in the Robert Bateman Gallery, where we all got a chance to get up close with the work of the most famous wildlife painter in Canada. Dinner was held on the ship and followed by a haunted Victoria tour, for the bravest among us.
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.