Boughton Archipelago is where the orcas spend their summer. One of the world’s largest salmon runs, the Fraser River Salmon travels through the area, and so large numbers of orca go to gorge themselves. I was taking a six day solo kayak trip through the area, camping on small remote islands, and I was hoping to see some of them. I have seen Orca from my kayak before, but from a distance or only a quick glimpse, so I wanted to get a closer look. But not too close; they are called Killer Whales after all.
I launched from Telegraph Cove and after I fought through the turbulent water west of Hanson Island I got into mellow Blackfish Sound, where the Orca frequent. It was a beautiful day: no wind, mostly sunny, calm seas. After a short rest, I started to paddle across the Sound and I kept hearing a loud, deep, hollow booming sound, reverberating across the water like a distant canon firing. What is that noise? I stopped paddling and drifted, looking for the source. Far in the distance, I saw a humpback whale breach and land with a enormous splash, followed by a loud boom that echoed throughout the Sound. For the next few minutes whales were launching themselves into the air; something you don’t see everyday.
When the show was over, I continued across the sound, and before long I saw plumes of water and the unmistable sound of whales taking a deep breath as they surface. I realized it was large pod of Orca slowly moving towards me. If they stayed on course, it looked as if they were going to pass in front of me, so I stopped paddling. There were at least twelve whales traveling close together, swimming slowly and surfacing often.
Three male Orcas came within one hundred yards from the kayak, their dorsal fins slowly rising from the water. The male dorsel fin is uncurved and can be six foot tall, an odd but imposing sight from my kayak. I was only slightly uncomfortable because the pod passed safely in front of my bow.
When the pod was in the distance, I was just about to start paddling again when a loud noise behind me. I twisted around in the kayak cockpit to see a humpback surfacing fifty yards directly astern. I spun the kayak 180 and watched a few more humpbacks with distinctive tiny dorsal fin and humped backs.
I finally left the Sound and glided to my campsite through a maze of small islands and bays. I noticed a small splash in front me, moments later another closer; it looked like a small Harbor Porpoise. He surfaced again fifty feet directly in front of me, heading right for me, collision course. I fumbled for my camera, as he surfaced six feet to port; I could have hit him with my paddle. I took a picture a little late, missed the shot.
Thats why I came, to see some Orca. I got my wish and then some; I could not believe my luck, a pod of orca in front, followed immediately by humpbacks behind and finished up with a suicidal porpoice- The trifecta and it’s only day one!