Tofino Pelagic Trip, Sept 3, 2017

25 of us set out of Tofino Harbour on 2 chartered boats from Ocean Outfitters.  We did not chum on board but were able to find a longline fisherman. It is too bad we couldn't have found a dragger that really pulls in the birds like Laysan Albatrosses haha.

Highlights on this trip were: 40 Buller's Shearwaters (I've never seen that many off BC), Flesh-footed Shearwaters, Black-footed Albatross, Sabine's Gulls, Fork-tailed Storm-petrels, Sea Otters, Humpback Whales, Dall's Porpoises riding our boat, Red Phalaropes, Red-necked Phalarope, Tufted Puffin, Long-tailed, Parasitic and Pomarine Jaegers, Sabine's, Herring and Heermann's Gulls, Arctic Terns, Northern Fulmars, Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters, Ancient Murrelets and Cassin's Auklets.

We had good people on this trip: Peter Candido, John Vooys, George Clulow, Rob Lyske, John Reynolds, Vince Knight, Neil and Andrea MacLeod and family, Jayme Brooks, Rebecca Tranmer, Ilya Povalyaev, Mike and Sharon Toochin, Mike Bentley, Ben Keen, Courtney and Matt Cameron, Mark Wynja, Guy Monty, Doug Martin, Thomas Plath and Penny Hall.

Thanks for coming.

My highlight was seeing the Sea Otters :).

They sleep and rest together by gender. Meaning the male otters stay in their own raft and the females stay in their own raft. Several of these otters had pups that you can see on their stomache. Therefore, the photos below show a raft of female otters with pups.

Sea Otters are the smallest marine mammal in North America and they do not have any blubber. It is their fur that keeps them warm and dry. For this reason it why oil spills are so detrimental to them. All native Sea Otters in Vancouver Island are extirpated the Sea Otters pictured here are descendants of the wild Alaskan Population which was transplanted here. We now have about 6000 Sea Otters in BC. Our native otters were killed for their valuable fur. It is now illegal to kill Sea Otters for their fur.

Sea Otters are so important to the environment and ecosystem because without them there would be no Kelp Forests that they help to keep healthy. Kelp Forests are little sanctuaries of life for many marine animals.Sea Otters eat sea urchins which feed on these kelp forests. Kelp Forests are important since they absorb C02 from the environment and protect smaller species of fish and land from storm surge.When Sea Otters were killed off on Vancouver Island the kelp forests were so depleted and the marine ecosystem was unhealthy. When these marine mammals were reintroduced from Alaska the vital Kelp Forests rebounded. Right now California's Sea Otters are endangered and we could lose them there so let's hope people protect them before too late. Could you imagine a world without these cute Sea Otters?

Note the pup on mom's belly in the below photo. Female sea otters are the best mothers you could hope for. They protect their babies and carry them around everywhere they usually only have one pup but I have seen them with twins. The mother's energy is depleted at this time as she must groom all of her pup's fur, he can't swim for quite some time and she has to feed him and herself. It is tough work and she has to protect the baby from other sea otters and predators. They are truly one of the coolest and special animals.

Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Sabine's Gull - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Black-footed Albatross - Photo: Melissa Hafting
A raft of female Sea Otters with pup in Tofino - Photo: Melissa Hafting
A raft of female Sea Otters with pup in Tofino - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Parasitic Jaeger - Photo: Melissa Hafting
Pink-footed Shearwater - Photo: Melissa Hafting


  1. Sounds like a very successful weekend for you! Marmots, interviews, albatrosses, Swallow-tailed Gull… those sea otters are adorable!

  2. What an incredible pelagic trip you had Mel. I am impressed most by your fork-tailed storm-petrel shot! They twist and fly so fast on the water i have never been successful. lucky you to see wild sea otters that is a dream of mine. i am really enjoying your new blog.

  3. oh im also very impressed by your sabine's gull with the breeding bird with a fish in its beak superb work mel

  4. Thanks everyone it was an awesome weekend with gorgeous weather and great people and even better birds... still dont have my LAAL though! lol

  5. What an awesome weekend you had!! Super shots, all of them! You'll get your LAAL soon, with the luck you are having :D

  6. Sounds like a great trip, really love the beautiful shots great captures. The sea otters are so cute

  7. Thanks so much Viktor and Meghan for your kind words, means a lot. Viktor i sure hope you are right about the LAAL!

  8. looks like an amazing adventure mel i wish i was there with you! i would love to see wild sea otters and all those pelagic birds!


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