Cetaceans (Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises)
The Blackfish Archipelago is frequented not only by orca, but also by the second smallest baleen whale, the minke whale. Harbour and Dall’s Porpoise are also abundant and the latter often delight our visitors with displays of speeds up to 55 km/hr. Sightings of humpback whales are becoming increasingly common. It appears that these glorious giants are rediscovering the inland waters of Vancouver Island as a migration route. In fact, during our 2011 season, we saw Humpback whales almost every day! Pacific white-sided dolphins are sighted year-round but in the spring and fall, their numbers are truly spectacular and they leave no doubt that they are the world’s most acrobatic dolphin species.
Pinnipeds (Seals and Sea Lions)
Pacific harbour seals are abundant with peak pupping being in mid-July. Steller sea lions are in the area in very large numbers in spring and fall. Male Californian sea lions are occasionally sighted in the area. Northern elephant seals also range into this area.
Marine Invertebrae and Fish
It is beyond the scope of this text to be able to accurately relay the astounding diversity and abundance of marine invertebrates and fish found in local waters. Marine invertebrates include sea stars, sea cucumbers, anemones, nudibranchs, etc. Suffice it to say that the cold, oxygen and nutrient rich waters fuel one of the most vibrant eco-systems on earth.
The islands of the Broughton and Blackfish Archipelagos are home to large numbers of black bear, river otters, wolves, mink, raccoons and deer. Wolf sightings are rare but sightings of bear, deer, otters and mink are very common. Often, even while traveling the last stretch to Telegraph Cove, visitors may see bear and deer. Populations of river otters and mink live within the Cove itself.
Year-round resident species include the bald eagle, Harlequin duck, great blue heron, pigeon guillemot, rhinoceros auklet, red-necked phalarope and black oystercatcher.
Even within picturesque Telegraph Cove itself, the birds delight visitors. The eagles, herons and gulls wait to tease fishermen and profit from their catch. Rufous hummingbirds zoom from feeder to feeder while Steller’s jays squawk and belted kingfishers chatter.
It is in the late summer and fall however, that the bird life becomes truly extraordinary as winter residents return and migrating visitors alight on the Pacific flyway. Sooty shearwaters return in floods; Leach’s and fork-tailed storm-petrels are common, as are surf and white-winged scoters.