Celebrating orcas at the North Coast Whale Festival on Saturday, April 14, was a total splash.
The inaugural event was inspired by the A42s, northern resident killer whales, that show up in the Prince Rupert harbour around the same time every year.
Although hundreds of people showed up for the whale festival at the North Coast Convention Centre, the familiar pod of orcas had yet to arrive.
“We haven’t seen the whales yet, however they have been seen down at Hartley Bay and then we had someone report from Port Simpson, they had photos this past week,” said Karina Dracott, coordinator for the North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative by OceanWise.
Nadina Tait had posted photos of orcas on April 3, seen near Lax Kw’alaams.
The whales aren’t really on a schedule, Dracott added. “Maybe they’re further down south but we’re hoping they come up in the next week.”
Approximately 35 volunteers, including many from Charles Hays Secondary School, such as Grade 10 students, Avery Lorette and Aidan Murphy-Morven, who monitored the whale skull table. Across from them, Grade 10 student, Kyla Leland-Barnaby enthusiastically shared the different whale sounds with anyone who cared to listen — which was pretty much everyone who came to the festival.
Speakers from Vancouver shared their knowledge in another room, and a scavenger hunt kept kids busy looking for 10 whale features and more around the city.
“It was really great to have support from the community to bring this event together. It’s been a lot of volunteers, more than we possibly could have imagined, lots of hands on deck and we couldn’t have done it without them,” Dracott said.
In the evening, there was a sustainable seafood dinner put on by Dai Fukasaku and a beer, Killer Wit, by Wheelhouse, with all the proceeds going toward starting up the North Coast Ecology Centre Society.
“We’re hoping to get that started soon,” she said.