Ocean Wildlife of Cape Breton

We woke to rain hitting the canvas of the camper again this morning but were determined that we would go whale watching. Because of the rain we didn’t hurry – in fact we dawdled over the internet and a second cup of coffee – and the rain continued. Occasionally it seemed like the skies lightened a little and they would give us a burst of enthusiasm. The owner of the campground (who had told us about The Chowder House) told us the best place to go for whale watching.

We drove up to the small harbor of Bay St. Lawrence by North Point for our chosen departure time of 1:30 but as we were waiting it started to rain – hard, and the wind was blowing so hard I couldn’t take pictures of wild flowers even when it wasn’t raining. Because the skies had cleared late in the afternoon the day before, we decided that 4:30 would be a better departure time (poor logic for weather).To “kill time” (husband’s term) we drove up to Meat Cove (yes, real name for no apparent reason) that I will post about another time.

At 4:00 we returned to the docks under partly sunny skies and no wind (who needs logic).

I don’t like to just “kill time” so we had an ice cream cone at the “take out” across from the dock where Captain Cyril Fraser ties his whale-sighting/fishing boat.

According to his advertising brochure, the Oshan Whale Watching company is a family business and the family has made northern Cape Breton their continued home for five generation. The western portion of Cape Breton is primarily Scotish and Oshan is the Gaelic word for “standing tall or above” and according to Cyril it has been the nickname of the Fraser clan for generations.

Our ride onto the Atlantic was warm and very comfortable – we didn’t need the heavy sweatshirts we brought and it wasn’t long before a whale broke the surface.

Pilot Whale

I put my camera on automatic, with the special pet option and fired away every time there was surfacing. These are Pilot whales and the cows are carrying their calves on their backs. In the above picture it looks like there are two moms traveling together.

Pilot Whale with calf

One whale surfaced about 25 feet from our boat. After we had our fill, we moved toward North Point which is the northern most point of Cape Breton to see seals. The are curious creatures but also timid so they would poke their heads out of the water a ways away to check us out and then all of a sudden dive under with a splash.

Seal taking a look.

Here are the dominate seals on a rock sunning themselves – and making quite a racket when other seals threatened their spot in the sun. We didn’t get very close because they would have hit the water.

Dominate Seals Sunning

A short distance away was a flock of Cormorants sitting on a couple of rocks. As soon as the boat got close they flew away but I was able to get this picture. They have really long wing-spans and are great fishing birds. I understand that in China and Japan, trained Cormorants are used for fishing.

Cormorants

I think this next bird may be a Guillemot which is in the Puffin family. They are sleeker than the gulls and has a wider wing span. They are really beautiful in flight but hard to follow with a camera.

The captain threw out lines so the kids on board could catch some mackerel and when he filleted them, the gulls and guillemots gathered for the castaways. And then we spotted the bald eagle we had seen earlier soaring high above us. This time he was coming closer for a part of the action. What fun tracking him with my camera.

Bald Eagle

Soaring Bald Eagle

This eagle didn’t want to mess around with what was thrown overboard and decided instead to dip into the water and catch his own fish. How exciting to watch – but happened so quickly I couldn’t capture it. But I did get a picture of his fly-away to his nest high on a cliff.

Fresh fish for supper.

When we returned to the bay I was pleasantly tired, very relaxed, and felt great joy. The sun was beginning to set which created a beautiful setting for photographing this hand-made wooden sail boat moored on the dock.

Sun is setting on a day full of adventure.

And I eagerly looked forward to sorting through the 300+ photos I had taken this day. 🙂

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23 Comments »

      • My Sister discovered your blog doing an innocent google search. Our family runs Oshan Whale Watch, so naturally you are honoured when someone has something nice to say about you, especially in a well written blog. I shared your blog on our region’s facebook page, Northern Cape Breton, which was in turn shared by Tourism Cape Breton’s facebook page. I just wanted to let you know because on both those facebook pages people are raving over your wonderful blog and photography. Of course, I then went and shared the blog on the Oshan Whale Watch Page and the compliments have been coming ever since. Thanks again.

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        • Oh how wonderful. I am so happy and honored that you have shared my blog. We had such a good time on Cape Breton, and especially on the whale watch. This is such a surprise and a real day-maker. Thanks so much.

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    • Yes, I agree. New camera and inexperience, combined with a moving bird and moving boat. It was exciting to capture it at all. Thanks for checking it out.

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  1. These are lovely…………isn’t Canada beautiful? Thanks for sharing these, very nice work with the birds – I can never catch them w/ my camera, hahahaha! Also thanks for stopping by. Cheers!

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