Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Looking for your "Video Diaries"

Photo: Rudy Stein

For those of you on Bluewater trips this year, we are looking for short 30 second video clips of you telling us why you love the destination you are traveling in! Whether you are watching a Spirit Bear play in the river, a pod of whales traveling past the boat, or enjoying the beautiful scenery that surrounds you. We want to hear your comments, and we will post your videos on our website to help show guests what makes these trips great. If you have any questions, please email Leanne at

Friday, May 22, 2009

Guests are Soaking in the Charlottes

Natural hot springs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, hundreds of Humpback whales, ancient totem poles, Haida Elders, local culture, migrating sea birds, untouched beaches, black bears, sunshine, gourmet food...the list goes on. What a week on the Island Roamer!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hungry Bears...

By Neil Shearar - Bluewater Skipper

Last year while running a wilderness expedition on the remote British Columbia north coast I had an incredible shock. We visit coastal estuaries in the hopes of encountering bears, Grizzly bears and Black bears feeding on salmon that migrate up the rivers to spawn in the late summer and fall. I have run these bear focused trips for many years. On a typical year I expect to see many thousands of salmon in any one of the estuaries we visit. Last year I was stunned to find that there appeared to have been an absolute collapse of fish stocks within the estuaries we visit.

One river, typically a Grizzly hot spot, seemed very quiet on our initial approach, the tell tale bald eagles which dot the green tree tops with their white heads and the seals which hang around in the river mouth were suspiciously absent. As we entered the river we expected to see large schools of fish hiding from predators as they migrate upstream, carcasses of spawned out fish washing downstream and covering the bottom where they nourish the estuary and river mouth, also partially consumed salmon carcasses strewn along the banks where bears and wolves had left remains that the eagles and other animals would clean up. We saw nothing, not one fish. Normally this place would be ripe with the scent of decaying salmon, there were none.

We made our way up river and climbed out onto the river bank, pushed our way through some brush and yelled "Hey Bear" to make our presence known as we hiked up a narrow bear trail. We broke out into a sedge meadow with open sight lines and then quietly scouted around. There was a lot of "bear sign" more than usual, bears had been excavating, feeding on the bulbs and root systems of estuary plants. Bears typically do this earlier in the summer while they wait for the return of salmon to the estuary. There was also the occasional berry filled scat, further indication that bears were around. We sat tight and scanned the meadow for signs of movement, as bears often bed down in the sedge grass to rest during the mid day. Finally after a time there was some movement, a juvenile male Grizzly came out of the tree line and ventured out into the open. This was the skinniest bear I had ever seen, his ribs were showing through his coat. Typically bears we view at this time of year are rotund having gorged on fish in preparation for winter. We saw no other bears that day in a place we normally would count on seeing many. It appeared as though the bears had waited in anticipation of their yearly bounty that never came.

I saw this scene played over in many of the amazing places I take people to experience in the B.C. coastal wilderness, it is a great concern. The loss of wild salmon stocks on the North American west coast is catastrophic and tragic. The north Pacific salmon run may be the largest movement of biomass on the planet and is the primary natural source of protein for the entire region. There are a few likely reasons for the stock declines, some we can do little about, some we can.

It is clear that the effects of salmon farms on wild salmon migration routes are a major factor. Alex Morton is a biologist from the Broughton Archipelago, her research has clearly shown these effects, she has been fighting an uphill battle, campaigning against strong financial interests to put an end to the current system of salmon farming. There is a petition running collecting names to show that the public are aware of this issue and wish to see more effective management of wilderness recourses.

Please view the web site and sign the petition. Some people may perceive these causes as liberal, socialist and even bleeding heart. Please suspend this perception for one moment, this is as conservative as it gets, the growing and sustainable tourism industry in which I am employed is at stake. B.C has incredible untapped tourism potential which will provide employment and economic growth on the coast for years to come. Our wilderness as a resource needs to be better managed.

Please forward this message to as many people as you can and sign the petition if you care. Current number signed is 14 000, we need thousands more if this issue is to receive any real attention.

Neil Shearar

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oil Cube Lifted out of Robson Bight 'Cleanly'

$2.5M salvage operation underway after barged tipped in August 2007

Picture: CTV News

Observers on a barge in Robson Bight ecological reserve held their breath yesterday afternoon as a metal cube containing 1,400 litres of hydraulic oil was carefully pulled to the surface. "There was a lot of anticipation when the cube finally broke the surface, but the crew were very calm and professional, which helped," said Randy Alexander, environmental protection manager for the Environment Ministry. The two-metre-square container, with 72 pails of lube oil, had been sitting on the ocean floor since August 2007 when a barge tipped equipment into the famed wildlife area, where threatened northern resident killer whales feed and rub themselves on pebble beaches. The 11 pieces of equipment belonged to Ted LeRoy Trucking of Chemainus, which is charged with numerous pollution violations. The company declared bankruptcy last year.

The $2.5-million operation to remove the oil cube and a fully loaded fuel truck from 350 metres of water is being conducted by Mammoet Salvage B.V., a company based in the Netherlands, on behalf of the province and federal government.

A remotely operated underwater vehicle was first sent into the water, then a crane dropped down hooks and chains, which were attached to the container by the underwater vehicle before it was slowly pulled to the surface. Initially, the company planned to cover the cube with a special jacket to catch any spills, but with debris on the ocean floor, it was feared cables could be snagged.

The operation went extremely smoothly, said Paul Spong, director of whale research station OrcaLab, one of the many environmental groups pushing government to remove the equipment. "It came out of the water cleanly. There was a tiny bit of residual oil, but they had a boom around the site and I would say there was no impact on the environment."

Click here for the full story by Judith Lavoie, Times Colonist

Monday, May 11, 2009

Birds of Haida Gwaii, Queen Charlotte Islands

Photo: Bruce Whittington

The spring plankton bloom which provides a rich influx of food into the ecosystem and supports breeding colonies of up to one million seabirds. Some of the more colourful species include: tufted puffins, horned puffins, rhinoceros auklets, black-footed albatross, black oystercatchers, and pigeon guillemots. With such abundant bird life, raptors, such as the peregrine falcon, are common in the Charlottes. Heavy concentration of Bald eagles. Our constant companions will be the smaller seabirds such as ancient murrelets, marbled murrelets, common murres, phalaropes, and gulls. If you are an avid birder, the best time to be in the area is May and June.

Join avid birder, author and Naturalist - Bruce Whittington May 23-31, 2009.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bluewater Adventures - The Book!

That's right, you can share your memories with friends and family right on your own coffee table! The Bluewater Book is 20 pages, full colour, hard cover and full of amazing photos and information on your favourite coastal destinations. Purchase onboard the vessels or order online.

Monday, May 4, 2009

NDP promises to buy Vancouver Island land...return public control

New Democratic Party leader Carole James promised today an NDP government would buy 12,000 hectares of land on Vancouver Island that the B.C. Liberals removed in 2007 from management under the province's tree farm license system.

For the full article by Andrew MacLeod click here