Wildlife Viewing Through The Seasons

Our wildlife viewing possibilities change throughout the seasons. There is no particular “best time”, There is something special to see and experience year-round.

Spring (May and June) – as the days grow longer this is the time of year of returning wildlife and new life. Humpback whales are returning to our waters to feed after spending the winter in the warm waters of Mexico and Hawaii. First, we see lone adults followed by mothers with their new calves. Rafts of sea otters with young pups are also seen – and heard as the pups cry for their mothers. Steller sea lions are seen in large groups early in spring but as June advances they start heading to even more remote breeding rookeries. Seabirds are nesting at this time of year and we often see them in the hundreds, if not thousands. We have globally important seabird nesting areas a short boat ride from camp with large populations of Rhinoceros auklets, Leach’s storm petrels and Forked-tail storm petrels. Bald eagles seem like they are everywhere. During spring we may see black bears foraging along the inter-tidal zone and grizzly bears in the estuaries.

The mountain peaks surrounding the inlets are still capped with snow while the shoreline and rivers valley are green with new growth.

Weather averages
May – average high 13° – average low 5° C – average of 12 days with rain
June – average high 15° – average low 8° C – average of 11 days with rain

Summer solstice is June 20, 2020 with almost 16 ½ hours from sunrise to sunset.
Full moons – June 5
New moons – May 22, June 20

Summer (July and August) – the summer months are mostly about food. The number of humpback whales in the area grows throughout the summer as they feed on both krill and small schooling fish – often with a powerful lunge right at the surface. The northern resident orcas (killer whales) are more commonly seen in the area as they are hunting for chinook salmon and Bigg’s orcas are patrolling the seal haul-outs looking for a meal. Small groups of Dall’s porpoises are a common sight and Pacific white-sided dolphins are also seen – if a bit less frequently. The new sea otter pups continue to grow, and being the only marine mammal without any blubber, they always need lots of food. The bald eagle chicks are now as large as their parents and will soon leave their nest for the first time. Black bears are often still seen along the shorelines and grizzly bears may be feeding in the estuaries during the summer. Both species have more widespread food choices at this time of year as berries and other vegetation ripen. The bears converge on the rivers when the salmon begin returning in mid-August.

Weather averages
July – average high 17° – average low 10° C – average of 7 days with rain
August – average high 18° – average low 10° C

Perseid meteor showers peaks on August 13, 2020
Full moons – July 4, August 3
New moons – July 20, August 18 – average of 8 days with rain

Fall (September and October) – This is when we see the highest concentrations of humpback whales and they tend to be at their most active. After spending all summer restoring their energy reserves, the humpbacks seem to have a bit more time to interact with each other before they start to head south for another winter. We may even experience some pre-mating behaviours such as males chasing female or hearing humpbacks singing on our hydrophones, The northern resident orcas are still feeding on chinook salmon in early fall but many move to chum salmon later in the fall and may not be seen as often as they travel further looking for prey. The Steller sea lions that left in the late spring for their breeding rookeries are now returning to local haul outs in large numbers, seeing over a hundred of these huge beasts hauled out is a common sight at this time of year. The Pacific white-sided dolphins that we occasionally saw during the summer in small groups are now more commonly seen and often in groups of well over a hundred.

The fall is also the time for the bears to eat as much as they can in preparation for their winter hibernation. With the salmon returning to spawn in the local rivers, the bears are looking to gorge themselves on this high energy food. Much of our bear viewing at this time of year is done from small boats in the rivers or from riverside viewing stands at key feeding locations.

Weather averages
September – average high 15° – average low 8° C – average of 10 days with rain
October – average high 11° – average low 5° C – average of 17 days with rain

Full moons – September 1, October 1
New moons – September 17, October 16