During a Discovery Islands Kayaking Expedition last August, paddlers had been enjoying the usual features of this trip, amazing scenery, fantastic camping, great meals in the wilderness and just getting away from it all.
But this turned out to be no ordinary trip and little did everyone know that the highlight would be the sight of humpback whales breaching just meters from their kayaks.
Spectacular Kayaking Trip from the Get Go
Sometimes, all the elements of a fantastic trip just magically come together. The entire group develops an easy camaraderie, the weather is good, and any changes to original plans are taken in stride.
This was one of those trips that was looking to be memorable from the get go. On the second day a pod of 30 dolphins appeared and proceeded to leap beside and swim under the kayaks. Dolphins are common in the Discovery Islands but can often be elusive and seeing a large pod so close was a definite thrill.
Moving on, the group encountered more people than usual at some of the common campsites so they kayaked further north towards the Penn Islands. Unphased, the group was invigorated by the added exploration. There are so many spectacular islands in the Discovery Islands chain; each one holds something worth exploring.
Humpback Whales Sighted
On the third day the group were paddling towards their next campsite when they encountered a group of boaters viewing a humpback nursing her offspring. Observing from a safe distance, everyone watched as the whales floated near the surface and then dove down. With the sight of their magnificent tail flukes disappearing into the water, the group expected they were unlikely to see them again.
What Happened Next Was Breathtaking
As the kayakers prepared to move on what happened next was something they will never forget.
The whales reappeared and surprised everyone by breaching.
Heather Lawrence, one of the guests on the trip, had her video camera and using a telephoto lens began filming the experience. She managed to catch the humpback whales breaching several times in the distance and then disappearing once again.
Just when everyone thought the wildlife experience couldn’t get any better, the humpback whales appeared in front of the kayaks only about 10 metres away for a final breach.
Heather still had her camera rolling and said afterwards during her interview with CBC News, “It was really exhilarating. She’s huge and that’s all that you’re seeing. She takes up the whole view …There’s not a lot going on in your mind. You’re just thinking, ‘Holy cow, I can’t believe I’m seeing this’”
Some of the nearby boaters also caught it all on camera. After ensuring the whales had finally moved on, the guides leading the trip paddled over to the boaters and asked if they would share the footage. They graciously said yes, and after the trip returned to Quadra Island, the footage was compiled to share with the group.
Humpback Whales Breaching Video Goes Viral
Expecting the video to be just a great memory of an amazing trip one of the guides (Damon, who is also one of the owners of Wildcoast the expedition company guiding the trip) posted the video on YouTube and then couldn’t believe the incredible amount of interest. The phone started ringing off the hook with news outlets wanting to use the footage in the nightly news and hear more about the incredible wildlife experience.
Reaching out to everyone involved in making the video, the experience was retold to several news outlets by Heather and others. On last count, the video was viewed over 800,000 times.
For Wildcoast Adventures, the greatest thrill was that this incredible experience was enjoyed not only by the guests but by so many others worldwide. While this encounter with Humpback Whales was a rare one, there is an incredible resurgence of these mammals on the west coast of British Columbia and sightings are becoming more common each summer.
Looking to Explore the Discovery Islands on a Kayaking Trip?
If this sounds like an adventure you would like to go on, check out all the details about Wildcoast Adventures Discovery Islands Expedition. This trip starts on Quadra Island and spends 5 days exploring islands throughout the Discovery Islands chain. Trips operate June, July and August.