Whales, sea lions and bears, oh my.
I’ve never been so close to coastal wildlife as I was earlier in July after boarding the big yellow Adventure Tours boat, Inside Passage.
The boat itself is a rare beast in Prince Rupert waters, able to carry 100 passengers and a fairly new addition to West Coast Launch’s fleet of marine transporters.
Camera in hand, I chose a seat near the front and listened intently as the tour guide shared some background history.
Metlakatla Pass means salt-water pass, and Lax Kw’alaams means island of the wild roses.
The captain then announced to ‘hold on’ as we came upon a rough patch of water.
“You get the westerly swell at Dickson Entrance east and it mixes with water from Portland Inlet and the open Pacific and it gets rough, really rough. It’s 2,000 feet deep in some spots where they meet just outside of the work channel so you get high tides and rough water,” said tour guide Elaine Oborne.
Moving past the rough terrain and up Chatham Sound, we saw a large rock seating some playful sea lions. It was such a memorable sight to see them slip into the sea so gracefully as the boat slowed to watch.
Not too far ahead of the rocks someone noticed orcas bobbing their heads to catch a breath. As we got closer to the legendary giants, I realized the magnitude of their sheer size. It was magical, like a symphony.
Moving up the Khutzymateen Inlet, the guide reminded us of the bear sanctuary’s significance we were visiting. More than 3,000 kilometers of protected land, home to the famous B.C. Grizzly bears.
We followed seven bears that day, all different shapes and sizes, but the most memorable was the last bear.
The salmon were jumping and you could tell she wanted one. Roaming the beautiful landscape, we saw her dive into the waters and swim in and around the curves of the shoreline. She came up empty- handed every time, got frustrated, and took notice of some tall grass along the beach.
It was so surreal to witness the bears in their natural habitat. Surrounded by mountains and pristine primal environment, you just wanted to reach out and grab ahold of those fuzzy, curious creatures, although that might end badly, unlike the trip that ended on a high note while viewing some of the local eagles.
What a fantastic way to meet animals of the coast.