Travel

Photos: Whale encounters and island scenery in B.C.'s Broughton Archipelago

Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures brings you face-to-face with the wildlife in one of North America's most biodiverse marine areas
  • Mar 15, 2017
  • 596 words
  • 3 minutes
A humpback whale breaches in the Broughton Archipelago Expand Image

Nothing beats a kayak for maneuvering around the islands and islets of the Broughton Archipelago — or for reminding you of the sheer bulk of a humpback whale or the awe inspired by a pod of orcas on the hunt.

For those exploring northern Vancouver Island, from Telegraph Cove Resort to Port Hardy and the nearby First Nation community of Alert Bay, Port McNeill-based Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures offers a way to tack on a few stunning days by water, camping on remote islands by night and crossing a marine wilderness teeming with wildlife big and small by day. As Kingfisher’s owner Andrew Jones can attest, no two excursions have ever been remotely similar.

Scroll down for photos from two of Kingfisher’s best Broughton adventures, the six-day Broughton Archipelago Explorer and Orca Waters Explorer.

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Broughton Archipelago Marine Provincial Park is sandwiched between the B.C. mainland and northern Vancouver Island, a large island network with numerous sheltered bays and channels ideal for wildlife viewing. (Photo: Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures)
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Few encounters are as memorable as humpback whales feeding on schools of herring. (Photo: Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures)
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Besides humpbacks, kayakers may also be treated to views of marine mammals such as minke whales, orcas, white-sided dolphins (above), porpoises, seals and sea-lions. (Photo: Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures)
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On the first day, kayakers are oriented, outfitted and given time to become familiar with their transportation for the week. Waterproof kayaking jackets and neoprene mitts are provided for warmth and comfort. (Photo: Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures)
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On Kingfisher’s excursions, camps are raised on uninhabited islands, sometimes in dense rainforest and otherwise on pebbled beaches or scenic outcrops. (Photo: Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures)
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A harbour seal haul-out in the vicinity of base camp, on Hanson Island. (Photo: Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures)
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Base camp is more developed than other campsites on the trip. Hungry kayakers enjoy hearty meals such as cedar-plank wild sockeye salmon, fresh salads and cheesecake with fruit. (Photo: Rick Graham/Destination BC)
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A meal being prepared at the base camp, from which paddlers set out for days in and around the provincial marine park, to the north of Hanson Island. (Photo: Rick Graham/Destination BC)
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By late June to early July, the focus of the paddling adventures turns to the orca that frequent Johnstone Strait, Blackfish Sound and the Broughton Archipelago. (Photo: Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures)
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Broughton Archipelago and the surrounding waters are one of the world’s best regions for seeing roughly nine-metre-long orcas socializing and feeding in their natural habitat. (Photo: Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures)
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Paddlers may find that Broughton Strait’s maze of rainforest islands is characterized by a range of weather conditions, but mist and rain does not, of course, deter the wildlife in the area. (Photo: Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures)
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The view from an island campsite on one of Kingfisher’s Broughton adventures. It’s not uncommon to hear a whale blow during dinner or from your tent during the night. (Photo: Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures)
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A team of harlequin ducks takes off from the ocean surface in Broughton Strait. The region is rich in birdlife, including rhinoceros auklets, western sandpipers, gulls and bald eagles. (Photo: Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures)
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Stellar sea lions lounge at a haul-out on the Orca Waters Explorer route. (Photo: Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures)
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Broughton’s waters are home to both fish-eating resident orcas and transient orcas, which are more widely carnivorous and have a particular taste for seal. (Photo: Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures)
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Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures owner Andrew Jones talks about a few of the trip’s wildlife encounters on the water taxi back from base camp. Moments after this photo was taken, another pod of orcas was spotted off the starboard side. (Photo: Nick Walker/Can Geo)

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