Friday, March 13, 2009

Wild, Wild Life

Recently we went on a “wildlife tour,” which is what they call a whale-watching tour when the whales and porpoises aren’t being cooperative. This didn’t bother me, as I will get future opportunities at better times of the year, and it gave me a chance to further explore the south end of Vancouver Island, parts that are normally very hard to see any other way (much of the southern end of the island is national park land, and the rest belongs to logging companies).

Here’s a map to show you whereabouts we went on this tour:

We headed out onboard this vessel:

Which is much superior to the “Zodiacs” (ie motorised rafts) they usually use, which require you to wear ridiculous huge jumpsuits like a bunch of doomed Norwegian fishermen. With this vessel we could just wear what we liked (and at this time of year, that’s bundled-up enough already!) and grab lifevests if we needed them.

We left straight from the Inner Harbour and went waaaay out (right up to the US border!) looking for whale pods, but no luck on this particular day, so the captain eventually gave up and headed for the ol’ standby, Race Rocks lighthouse -- always guaranteed to have various sea and land creatures on display, thanks to the largely unspoiled habitat (if it weren’t for a First Nations resort village called Ty Collwyn, we would have seen no trace of civilisation apart from the lighthouse itself and a weather beacon a few miles away).

Sure enough, there was wildlife a-plenty. In the pictures that follow, you’ll see a pair of bald eagles, an eagle’s nest in a treetop, a harbour seal sunning itself on a bank of mussels, sea lions (the big bear-faced kind) hanging out on the rocks, and the Race Rocks Lighthouse itself (built in Scotland approx. 1859, then brought over in sections and reconstructed here), the second lighthouse to be built in western Canada. It’s been in continuous operation since 1860.

All in all, a wonderful day for such an adventure (though a bit chilly -- mittens were a must!) and there are lots more photos than just these (haven’t gotten round to making a proper gallery yet). We look forward to doing this again come the summer.