Humpback whales treat tourists to an early-morning show off Port Hardy
Humpback whales entertain visitors to Great Bear Lodge in Port Hardy, B.C. in this still frame from a handout video. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Marg Leehane.
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, August 8, 2018 10:02AM PDT
PORT HARDY, B.C. - Tourists staying at a lodge on a Vancouver Island were treated to a spectacular show when a group of humpback whales visited for breakfast.
Marg Leehane, co-owner of Great Bear Lodge in Port Hardy, decided it was worth waking up the guests at 6 a.m. Saturday when the whales approached the docks.
She shot a video that has been viewed more than 1.5 million times on Instagram and shows the whales leaping from the water mere metres from the tourists.
Leehane says the video shows the whales using a feeding technique called bubble netting, in which humpbacks blow a large circle of bubbles around fish to trap them.
She says she's never seen whales so close to the lodge, and until last year she'd never seen humpbacks in the area use the bubble-netting technique to catch fish.
The technique is learned, rather than instinctual, and not all groups of humpbacks know how to do it, so seeing it up close was a special experience for Leehane.
“One of them will swim in a circle around fish, and as it's doing it, it will release air from its blowhole, and basically create a net of bubbles,” she says.
“Then the fish get more and more concentrated ... so (the whales) will get a lot more of them in each mouthful.”
Leehane adds that the excited reaction of biologist and tour guide Marlo Shaw in the video is almost as entertaining as the animals themselves.
The video shows a beaming Shaw ushering guests onto the docks, excitedly pointing at the whales and giving high fives after the animals burst from the water.
“I love watching her body language as much as the whales, because she's so excited to see it,” laughs Leehane.
Leehane has worked in the wilderness in B.C. for 17 years and has seen her fair share of incredible wildlife. The best part for her is knowing that the tourists, who were mainly visiting from the United Kingdom, will take the incredible memory home with them.
“Our guests, who have never seen anything like this before ... those people will go away with a memory they will never forget for the rest of their lives.”