I’ve never seen a Heron do this before.It was standing on some Bull kelp in the middle of the channel. That Kelp has to be 60 feet long! It’s anchoured on the bottom with a “holdfast”.Small fish like the cover the kelp provides but this very smart Heron has figured it out!
I was very happy to see my feathered friend “The Daredevil” back from his salmon holiday! He may still head off for another trip.Eagles come back from time to time to check on their territory.
I know this fellow.He works at the Liquor store. He lives out on a local island & paddles to work in the morning & back again at night.I can’t understand how he can paddle during the winter storms sometimes? It must get rough!
I heard of some Orcas coming into the inlet! I can only really take shots of Orcas when they come on the inside.If they are out in open ocean I can never tell where they are going to come up but If they go on the inside (down Tofino inlet), the more narrow channels corrals them. When they sound (dive) they are more predictable where they will be coming back up.
I went down the inlet looking for them.Turns out it was Wakana & her son Rainny! My favourite mother son combination! Wakana was born in 1963.She had Rainny when she was 15 years old.Rainny was born in 1978. Rainny is a real mummies boy but don’t tell him that. Rainny is a big boy,5tons at 25 feet! They are always seen together. They are called “The Wakana’s” & visit clayoquot sound frequently!
When I first spotted them at a distance,I could see Rainny spy hopping & than 30 seconds later breach clear of the water! I was too far away & travelling too fast to even try to take a shot. Unfortunately, he didn’t do any more spy hopping or breaching again!
They gave me the slip several times! They are well known for escaping from whale watching boats. I never did get any shots of them in bright light,but will be content with what I did get!
I always love visiting with them!
I knew the light was gone where they were,so I swung around to capture them as silhouettes against that gorgeous background! Both Wakana & Rainny came up to pose perfectly!
Their are several collective nouns for a group of River Otters.A romp,a family,a bevy & a raft!
On another note,I went to check out my favourite salmon stream today! Unfortunately I didn’t find a single salmon in the river system.I couldn’t even see any staging out front! When they stage out front you can usually see & hear them splashing about.Didn’t see or hear anything.I also didn’t see any bears cruising.
So it appears the party hasn’t started yet!
I have mixed feelings about this time of the year. The salmon begin to return to their natal streams but my eagle friends always disappear.
Eagles take care of their eaglet/s all summer.Come August the eaglets are big enough to become fully fledged.They literally fly the coup leaving mum & dad. So Mum & Dad go on a salmon vacation. They fly further north to their favourite salmon streams for some well deserved R&R. They leave for about a month.I haven’t a clue where they go but suspect further north as those streams are already spawning.The further north you go the sooner the spawning happens.Alaska started a month ago & Washington State (south of us) will start 2 or 3 weeks after us.
So I’m very happy to see the salmon returning but always sad to find my fine feathered friends are gone.The Daredevil & Delilah are gone. Maggie & Moe have already been gone for over a month.(I suspect they are too old to have anymore eaglets & so left sooner than most?) Juliette is gone,leaving only my buddy Romeo.I suspect he’ll be leaving any day now.
So I say goodbye to some but hello to others.I will be checking several streams tomorrow to see If the salmon have started to arrive? Always exciting to go upstream looking for bears cruising for salmon!
The starting gun for this years salmon run has gone off! The rains have started.The salmon are on their way to their natal streams.Each will sniff out their natal stream.Each stream has many soluble minerals in it. Each stream has a unique mineral finger print.
As a parallel each key has a unique cut to differentiate it from another. The same with each stream.Each stream has unique trace minerals in it. This unique mineral marker was imprinted into the salmon when it was born in that particular stream. Each salmon is like a blood hound sniffing it’s way back to it’s natal stream. Think of it like a huge highway with millions of salmon all swimming together.When the salmon smells it’s stream It simply ramps off!
Once it finds it’s stream It’ll “stage”.All that means is it’ll stay out front of the stream breathing in that fresh water. The fresh water coming from the stream begins to change them.This triggers hormonal changes.The male salmon will grow large hooked jaws.They change like Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde. They change into Mr.Hyde! Once they begin to change they go upstream to check things out.They head to the salmon party!
They move upstream during high tide & hunker down in the deep pools during low tide.They know it’s dangerous to move from hole to hole during low tide.The bears are waiting to pick off the dumb ones.The ones who try to make a run between deeper holes during low tide are invited to dinner. Once they get above the tide line they are on their own.No more protection.They want lots of rain so the streams fill with lots of water.Lots of water means deeper waters. Which means protection from the bears grabbing them.
One of the problems bears have is seeing the salmon.So they like these pedestal like rocks to stand on.They can look down & see the salmon swimming.A rookie bear will jump in when he sees the salmon swimming about.A smart bear will wait for low tide when there is less water around.That way the salmon has fewer options to escape!
The male salmon begin to fight with each other.They will find a female & swim beside her.If another male comes too close,that male will attack! I once let a underwater camera go downstream to record the spawning salmon.A male didn’t like the looks of my camera & attacked it.
Once the female is ready she’ll dig a rut (red) in the gravel.She’ll lay her eggs & the male will release his milt from upstream.The eggs are than covered back up with the gravel.The eggs have a semi permeable membrane that allows oxygen to pass through.During the winter the fresh oxygen will keep them alive.This is when they are imprinted with that streams unique mineral signature!The eggs are vulnerable to many factors.Other fish coming into the stream for a snack,temperature,PH,DO (dissolved oxygen).
Streams that have been logged down to a streams edge will have lots of sediment being washed down the hillsides into that stream.That sediment settles on top of the eggs, cutting off the oxygen. Which in turn kills the eggs.
So……..say instead of 100,000 salmon heading out of that stream to that big highway out to the ocean,there may only be 10,000.So in 4 years time that returning population will be far smaller than normal due to that sediment. Thats why clear cutting should never happen near a salmon stream.
Btw,that 10,000 will be reduced even further by predators while they are out in the ocean for 4 years & remember that when they come back fully grown they have to get through that bruin gauntlet as well!
Life as a salmon is tough! Once they lay their eggs & release their milt,they die.They fall like snowflakes to the bottom.This is when bears reach under the water (like a racoon) & grab leftovers. When the first big rain happens all those dead salmon carcasses are swept downstream by the increased current.All the birds & crabs are waiting out front with smiles on!
The RCMP have several boats here in Tofino. This type of boat is called a RIB,Ridged Inflatable Boat.The boat I use is also a RIB,just much smaller!
This boat is called the “Eagle”.It’s the boat used to by the RCMP for two native villages,Ahousaht & Opitsat.
It was coming to the dock in Tofino at sunset.
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