The “Grace II”

I saw this Crabber heading south towards me from Dawely Pass. I knew he was loaded down with Crab because of the bow wake he was kicking up! I slowed and let the wake pass while I took shots of him going by. The water was very calm and hitting a boats wake at high speed all of a sudden out of the blue,……. can cause problems !
Splash on my camera gear is not something I want! (even if my camera bag’s flap is closed,but not zipped up) I keep it that way for quick access when something unexpected happens!I’m always ready in acouple of seconds to shoot!


This is a Crabbing boat. They set Crab traps and harvest the crabs caught in it.
They rebait the trap with squid,fish heads etc. Squid is the choice of the industry I believe,but don’t quote me.
When the trap settles back down on the bottom,it starts producing a “scent” cloud downtide. Any Dungeness crab downtide of a trap will follow the scent trail right back into the trap. A one way door flap ensures the visitors a permanent stay in the trap until the Crabber comes back in a week or so to harvest them!
I also believe that only the males are harvested,with the females thrown back to help replentish the population. They have to be a certain size as well. I think the cut off limit is 6 inches. The smaller ones are thrown back for future harvesting.

Tranquil Inlet and Crabber

I use to work down here for a few years. I really loved going to work! Just being out in this beautiful place energized me!
This crabbing boat was heading west . I used my big lens and zoomed in all the way. I used a 400mm on my focal length. I wanted to compress the background into the foreground.
I always love to use that technique in my vista shots!

The Vargas Island

Pete was coming into the harbour from the east. I would of preferred to shoot him on the other side . I always like to be on the side with good light!
He traps Dungeness Crabs. He sets out Crab traps with fresh bait to lure the Crabs in and than comes back in a week or so to see what he’s got!
You have to throw back all females and only males larger than 6 inches across are the ones you can keep.

The “Vargas Island” and Tofino Air

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I was able to get out in the boat today! It’s been almost 3 weeks since I was in the saddle and have been chomping at the bit all this time!
Bad weather and Christmas vacation took up most of that time. It was the beginning of the New Year and it was sunny,sunny,sunny………plus cold!
I headed up the inlet(Tofino) to the east of Tofino. I know it very well. I use to work down this inlet as a Fish Farmer with Creative Salmon.
I decided to go all the way down the inlet to Cannery Bay to check out the Californian Sea Lions. They come in from the outside during the winter storms. They always do.They are nomadic in that regard. They would never be able to stay on the rocks just lazing about with massive waves hitting and possibly injuring and or killing them against the rocks! Their not stupid. As a matter of fact,very smart.
When I was a Fish Farmer I use to see what they would do to the fish during the night when no one was around.
They hunt in packs like wolves. Several would charge at the net,forcing the entire school of salmon against the opposite side of the net. The fish are not stupid either and know that these guys want to eat them. So they try to get away,but you can only move so much in a fish pen.
While the school of fish would be forced against the opposite side the attack was happening on.another Sea Lion would come up quickly on that side and garb a salmon through the net! It would than would hold the salmon tightly with the net still between it and the salmon. It would than suck the entire guts of the salmon out of the salmon right through the net!
We would have divers dive the pens every three days and they would find these seemly perfect fish dead at the bottom of the nets………..but with no guts!
Classic Predator hit or as we called them “Pred Hits”!
Sea Lions are very big creatures and they use to be shot when they came near the farms! This always bothered me. I do not like seeing such beautiful creatures killed!
It almost always was a instant kill too,because only their head would be sticking out of the water and head shots……well head shots are fatal!
It was very sad to see this happen. On a land farm if a wolve was attacking a farmers cattle,he would most likely shoot the wolves around.
Kind of like the classic “Fox in the Hen house” scenario,only it’s on the ocean.
This is one of the reasons why closed containment systems should be used instead of the open pen systems. However,as a x Fish Farmer I do understand alittle more than most about this situation. A closed containment would require large pumps to drive the water into a artificial current ,so that the salmon vortex or basically school.
This not only would require lots of fuel pushing the cost per unit(fish) up,but introduce a dangerous situation!
Think of a sailing boats sail filled with the wind. You’ve seen that I’m sure. Now…….imagine the same thing happening against the entire systems closed containment system. The flowing tide would react identically! The envelope would billow and place tremendous forces against the entire system. Now introduce a winters storm and you have a deadly situation!
I know of two Fish Farms that have been destroyed literally because of Winter Wind storms and one person was killed. I know where the metal tombstone is up Tofino Inlet in memory of this poor soul.
The house turned over and he was trapped inside and drowned.
This all happened without the closed containment being up. Nobody has them in the open ocean. Very expensive and dangerous. If you produce a fish at “X” amount per fish and another country without environmental restrictions can produce the same fish cheaper,you will not get the contracts for market and thus fail slowly.
Many countrys do not have environmental restrictions and can farm cheaper as a result. The Canadian producers are caught between a rock and a hard place.
Now I am not a advocate for fish farming as it is being done right now either,so don’t go sending me nasty letters about the harm Fish Farms are doing to the environment!
I understand the situation better than most.
Heres my solution – The government would have to put money into developing a infrastructure for these farms. What I mean by that is that electrical power could be sent off the main line ,towards the farm and a submarine cable would be laid on the bottom and go to the farm. This would solve the energy problem for the pumps and they would obviously have to have back up generators for power outages.
The closed containment system would have to be streamlined to allow the water (flowing both ways) around it. Think of a birds eye point of view. Looking down ,the system would resemble a twin bowed boat. Long and skinny,but with pointed bows. A study of the tides direction would have to be done and the anchoring system would have to be orientated to fit this. Another added advantage to having a closed containment system would be that “Plankton Blooms” would be stopped from wiping out a complete farm! Which has happened. During the summer when the water gets warmer,plankton blooms happen naturally and can,not always contain some “Bad” plankton that can kill the fish. A closed containment system would not only seal off the bad bugs( and sea lice) outside,but also stop Pred Hits from our aquatic friends. Plus ,all the fish feces could be collected. That is where the pathogen’s to disease exists!
The cost of doing this could be payed for over the course of time.
I do not know if my hair brained idea would work? But we have to do something to stop the pollution of the bottom and contamination of wild stocks from fish farms!(sea lice) We need to find a working compromise.
When I worked for Creative Salmon,I never saw sea lice down there and the Sea Lions were not many.
I saw hundreds ,upon hundreds today!! I have never seen that many Sea Lions in all my life! I’m serious. I was absolutely blown away by how many there were!

I got side tracked from describing this picture. Sorry. I’m alittle passionate sometimes.
In this shot,you can see the boat “Vargas Island” coming in ,while Tofino Airs Beaver takes off in the background. The Vargas Island is own by Pete White and is a Crabbing boat.
I tracked the plane as it took off because I saw the mountains in behind and wanted to capture him with that backdrop!
Today was an amazing day for me! I was almost injured/killed! You will have to read further on to find out why?