Our 2020 season was a very short one but it felt fantastic to get back out on the water and do what we do best! 20 lucky people joined Chris and I on 4 Marine Mammal trips in August and September. We normally take 8 guests but due to new Covid-19 Protocols we reduced our guest capacity to 5. We increased our cleaning protocols (although they were already top-notch), we came up with strategies to make life on board a 71 ft sailboat safe but still enjoyable, and we saw some amazing wildlife and scenery!
We ended up running trips in the Northern Vancouver Island area because it was the only place where we normally operate that was allowing tourism to happen. The Khutzeymateen Park was closed during our May and June permit time (it did open up later and was open through July and August), Gwaii Haanas was closed as the Haida Nation banned visitation by all but residents to the islands, and areas we visit in the Great Bear Rainforest were closed by First Nations and BC Parks in an effort to protect vulnerable First Nations communities. All in all, our season was cut down from a total of 25 planned trips to 4, that’s 28 days with guests instead of 140!
Through all this we remained positive and worked hard to find a way to get out running trips and we are so glad that we persevered. It was also great because we got to try things out and see first hand what will and will not work out on the boat for our trips in the future with Covid-19 in our world.
As always the Marine Mammal trips offer a wildlife extravaganza, each day filled with marine mammals of all sorts plus birds, glorious light, wind, waves, fog, kayaking opportunities, forest and beach walks, sunrises and sunsets. We saw resident orcas feeding, travelling in groups, rubbing on beaches, spy-hopping, tail slapping, breeching and we heard orcas vocalizing through our hydrophone and hull! We also saw transient orcas, humpback whales, minke whales, Dall’s porpoise, harbour porpoise, Pacific White sided dolphins, sea otters, harbour seals, sea lions, mola mola and a blue shark.
I truly believe that everyone who was able to travel with us felt exceptionally blessed. For 1 week, each group was able to leave the crazy pandemic world behind and just immerse themselves in wildlife and nature. Awesome!!!