The Eco Tour was run by Aaron, our knowledgeable guide who told us about everything from sea life and local animals to the history of the area and information about all of the other islands around us.
Our first point of interest was over near Stuart Island where we got into the thick of the rapids. Strong tidal currents raise the water levels at certain times during the day, pushing the rushing water around and forming whirlpools. Our boat slipped around these tumultuous spots as we held on and learned more about the ebb and flow of the Pacific Ocean in this area.
We headed South-South West and looped back around to where the Stellar Sea Lions like to hang out on the rocks. Approaching this area you can get a strong whiff of the animals (and what they do on the rocks). Aaron made sure our boat slowed to a crawl and kept its distance so we didn’t disturb them.
Before we tucked around the West side of Sonora Island we went into an inlet where tugboats have gone over the last century to wait out the rushing currents. Remnants of the waiting tug crews can be found on the shore, almost as a monument to their industry and to say “we were here”.
We headed West again and spotted harbour seals, white sided Pacific dolphins, and kept our eyes peeled for a plume of water or tail flipping out of the water in the distance. Aaron was on the radio with other boats who were out this morning and they had spotted a pod of Orcas. Unfortunately by the time we got out there they had already moved down the coast of Vancouver Island. However, the was a Humpback Whale still in the area.
Something was spotted off in the distance so we headed over to see if it was the Humpback. The boat’s pace slowed to a crawl and we got out our binoculars, cameras, and anything to help us spot signs of life on the ocean. We waited about 10 minutes then we took off again however as soon as the boat was turned around up came a big tail along with a plume of water as the Humpback surfaced. We looped back around, stopped the boat again and were able to take a few photos before he ducked down again.
The experience at Sonora has been amazingly unique and we were educated about how to respect the animals from both land and sea. I would have never thought I’d be able to observe both bears and a whale in a single day but it happened at Sonora.