VIDEO: Breaches, belly-flops and a close encounter with humpback whales

A wildlife tour of a lifetime for some visitors to Vancouver Island

When Erica Farrell booked a wildlife/adventure tour for her family, visiting from England, she was ever hopeful.

A whale, maybe… perhaps a small pod.

What they got was more than anyone could have expected. Even the tour guide was beaming at day’s end.

The six-hour tour produced a family of orcas, a shoreline of sea lions, and a dozen humpback whales breaching, belly-flopping, and swimming right up to the boat.

“Since I’ve been doing these tours, 20 years, that was probably one of my top 10 of all time,” said Garry Henkel, owner/operator of Aboriginal Journeys. “I’ve done more than 3,000 tours, but today was a special day. Some days you just see humpbacks. Some days you just see orcas. Some days, you just see spouts. But today was special. I don’t get to do this often.”

Orcas at play in Desolation Sound. (Terry Farrell/Comox Valley Record)

The British contingent was awed.

“Almost speechless with admiration for the beauty, the wildlife,” said Erica’s mother, Brenda Nevard, who was visiting Vancouver Island for the first time. “Difficult to put into words. A once in a lifetime experience.”

Brenda’s son, Phil Nevard, and his wife, Lythan, were equally impressed, not only with the wildlife experience, but with Henkel’s expertise as well.

“It was great to have such a knowledgeable guide with a First Nations’ respect for nature and the sea,” said Phil.

“It was one of the best days of my life and to be out with someone who respects the animals and is as excited to see them as we are was amazing,” added Lythan.

A humpback goes for a deep dive.(Photo by Erica Farrell)

Henkel said the re-emergence of humpback whales to the area has made the adventure tour experience that much better.

“We never used to see any humpbacks here until probably the last four or five years,” said Henkel. “Many, many years ago, they were hunted, back in the 1800s, early 1900s… almost hunted to extinction. I think they are making a comeback now finally because there’s less pressure on them, and because there’s a lot of krill.

“It’s great, because we used to just look for orcas and dolphins and stuff, but now we have the humpbacks as well so it really adds to the experience.”

Erica’s son, Ian Bowen of Grande Prairie, Alta., was also on the boat.

“We’re very lucky as Canadians to have this in our backyard,” he said.

Henkel concurred.

“There’s not many places in the world you can see that – orcas and humpbacks,” said Henkel. “In our area, in September, now you can sometimes see orcas, humpbacks, grizzly bears, black bears and sometimes dolphins, all in one day.”

For more information on adventure tours, visit http://www.aboriginaljourneys.com/

Just Posted

Vancouver Giant named to Western Conference first-tier all-star team

Young hockey defenceman Bowen Byram is once again lauded for his outstanding efforts on the ice

Giants begin playoff run in Langley tonight

With one win and a loss last weekend, the G-Men now top the Western Conference

UFV introduces first mindfulness graduate program in Canada

Most of the University of the Fraser Valley program is offered online

Punching Parkinson’s in the Fraser Valley

Rock Steady Boxing program, designed to help battle symptoms of Parkinson’s, coming to Abbotsford in April

WATCH: Langley Glow events denied permission to run

Darvonda Nurseries received a notice from the ALC on March 5.

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

China chemical plant blast kills 47, injures hundreds more

This is one of China’s worst industrial accidents in recent years

Montreal priest stabbed while celebrating morning mass

The incident happened Friday morning at Montreal’s St. Joseph’s Oratory

Organic Matters tea recalled across B.C. due to Salmonella

Recall for OM tea products is B.C. wide, possibly national.

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Most Read