When Orcas Go Swimming By… British Columbia Sea Kayak Adventure: The Conclusion

Orca family in Johnstone Strait, British Columbia.

We dropped what we were doing to watch the orca family pass by our campsite. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

“Orcas!” Kimberly cried out, and we all went dashing for the beach with our cameras. Kimberly liked to perch on convenient logs and rocks, looking out at the Johnstone Strait. It gave her a front row seat on the action. I get it. I can stare out at the Pacific Ocean for hours— watching the waves roll in, listening to the lonely calls of seagulls, admiring the crazy antics of pelicans, and, yes, looking for whales.

Looking for orcas in Johnstone Strait, British Columbia.

Perched on a rock, Kimberly keeps a sharp eye out for orcas.

We had barely arrived at our campsite when the first family of orcas came swimming by. We were still in the middle of tucking our kayaks away in the forest above the tide line. Everything was dropped, including the kayaks. There were whales to see.

Sea Kayak Adventures group watches orcas in Johnstone Strait, BC. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The rallying cry of “Orcas!” sent everyone scrambling for a view.

A baby orca surfaces in Johnstone Strait, BC.

A baby orca surfaces. Our reward for being vigilant. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

This was our last campsite before heading home. Once again we had returned to Vancouver Island. We were located at Sea Kayak Adventures’ Little Kai Camp and would be there for two nights. Seeing orcas on our arrival was a good omen. We were happy campers. Not even the surround sound of fishing boats or a deluge of cold rain could dampen our spirits.

Beach at Little Kai Camp on Vancouver Island. and Johnstone Strait.

The beach at Little Kai camp.

Who can complain when surrounded by good people and beautiful scenery? But our trip was drawing to a close. After several more good meals, another kayak adventure, an evening of fun and story telling, and more orcas, it was time to pack up our kayaks and paddle back to Telegraph Cove. An orca gave us a final British Columbia send-off.

Our group works its way south along Vancouver Island. Shortly afterwards the skies opened up and dumped buckets of rain on us.

Our group works its way south from Little Kai Camp along Vancouver Island. Shortly afterwards the skies opened up and dumped buckets of rain on us. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Driftwood on Johnstone Strait, Vancouver Island. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Back at camp, I found interesting driftwood.

Heart shaped rocks found on Little Kai Beach off of Johnstone Strait. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

We were amused to find that previous kayakers had collected numerous heart-shaped rocks off of Little Kai Beach.

Dinner is served on Sea Kayak Adventures' trip on Johnstone Strait.

Dinner is served.

Fishing boats shattered the quiet of our campground. BC fisheries had declared an eight hour fishing season to reduce the number of salmon trying to get up streams.

Fishing boats shattered the quiet of our campground. BC fisheries had declared an eight-hour fishing season to reduce the number of salmon trying to get up streams. Boats came from everywhere. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

We wrapped up our final evening with a campfire, story telling, songs and a skit.

We wrapped up our last evening with a campfire, story telling, songs and skits.

The final morning we posed for an 'official' group photo.

Our ‘official’ group photo.

Bear on Johnstone Strait, BC.

Kayaking back to Telegraph Cove, we came on a black bear. We weren’t able to determine how he managed to get the stick lodged in his fur. Was it the shaft of an arrow? (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Since we had begun our kayak adventure searching for orcas, it is appropriate that I end this series with a picture of the final orca we saw. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Since we had begun our kayak adventure searching for orcas, it is appropriate that I end this series with a picture of the final orca we saw. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

 

39 comments on “When Orcas Go Swimming By… British Columbia Sea Kayak Adventure: The Conclusion

  1. I read that the Orcas heard that you and yours were in the area. Once the word spread, it was only a matter before they would come around to check out the group in those colorful clothes.

  2. Thanks for sharing your fabulous BC kayaking/orca hunting adventure. Sounds like it was a really wonderful time. Glad you got to see lots of orcas. You got some great shots.
    I’ve seen some big pods a couple times over the years riding BC Ferries from Vancouver to the islands in the summer. The ferries slow right down when they see orcas around so you usually get a pretty good look at them. Can you imagine the roar that would go up if they hit one?!
    Alison

    • Always glad to share, as I know you and Don are, Alison. Yes, it would not be good to run into an orca. All sorts of bad karma involved. Orcas definitely have the right of way in Johnstone Strait. 🙂 –Curt

    • I wish I could move through the water like they can, Hilary. I didn’t dream of canoeing last night, but I did dream of backpacking, and the dream was filled with fantasy-created wild animals— none of whom wanted to eat me. 🙂 –Curt

  3. Just a perfect conclusion to the saga. And to see a baby! That puts the “Awwww” factor over the top. Thanks so much for sharing it all with us, and thanks, too, to Peggy for the wonderful photos. As they say, it’s been a trip, even for those of us just reading.

    • Have to have the ‘awww’ factor, Linda. Have another one coming up with a blog on bunnies. The kayak trip was quite the adventure, especially given the beauty and the orcas. I passed on your good words to Peggy. Thanks. –Curt

  4. An excellent adventure & great photos! “Where to” next? BTW, any risk of kayaks being overturned by Orcas? Saw PBS’s ‘Invasion of the Killer Whales’ last week. Beautiful, and amazingly fast, and definitely not to be messed with!

    • Thanks! I’ve never heard of a kayak being overturned by an orca. Doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. 🙂 We didn’t worry about it. Peggy and I are now down in Sedona, Arizona. Hard to find a greater contrast. After the orcas, I did spend time on the Oregon coast. So I will be blogging on both. –Curt

  5. Fantastic photos, as always; kudos to Peggy!
    I hate to say it, Curt, but from the shabby look of his coat – it should be glossy and thick, getting ready for Winter, at this point – and the slightly darker fur at the top of that piece of wood you might be right about it being an arrow shaft, it’s far too smooth to be natural and about the right length as well):
    If that is an arrow shaft, someone has piled up a REALLY big pile of Bad Karma! What kind of a pompous idiot would try to hunt a bear with a bow (that would be the pompous part) and then not finish the job (and that would be the idiot). Perhaps the bear was the more successful Hunter? (Now THAT would be Karma in action, wouldn’t it?)

    • Lots and lots of bad Karma, Deb.

      I’ve wandered through bear country for years and never carried a weapon, including Alaska. So far, I haven’t been eaten. I did wake up with a bear standing on me once in the Sierras, however. That was worrisome. 🙂

      Thanks for your good words. I’ll pass the photo comment on to Peggy. –Curt

      • Honestly? I’m fairly convinced that bears aren’t a problem to people unless they’ve started to equate “huMan” with “food source” or their habitat is under pressure and that normal (thoroughly wild) Bears don’t cause trouble.

      • Certainly been my experience in many encounters. The bear who woke me up was a young one. I think he was just curious. His snout was inches away from my snout. I think he was smelling my breath to see what I had eaten for dinner.

        I led hundred mile backpack treks through the backcountry of Yosemite for years and had to master the technique of hanging food so bears couldn’t reach it. Bear barrels have gone a long ways toward eliminating the problem, making it much better for the bears and backpackers. –Curt

      • Yes, family canoeing/camping trips certainly taught us that “out of reach” is a good thing – not just for people – but all of us: Porkies, ‘Coons, Bear and Skunk (just to name a few; )

  6. It must’ve been so rewarding to have seen Willie in the wild. Better yet, from land! J/K I think you would have preferred seeing a big fin slowly making its way to your tiny, seal-sized kayak! Lol

    But I am happy you saw some. Cool!

    I also thought about food… How people are growing in number and living longer with our oceans sea life being diminished in great numbers.

    • Overpopulation is a problem, yes; but even worse are the unsustainable fishing practices being employed… I.E. Those massive Drag-Net Trawlers that indiscriminately scoop up everything in their path and wreak havoc on the ocean floor ):

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