NIWRA Eagle Release

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Today was a beautiful day to release an Eagle!

I’ve never been to an Eagle release at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Center before, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but the whole event was beautiful! The actual Eagle release was at 2pm, so I aimed to get there for about 1pm to explore a little bit beforehand. If I was on my own I probably would have spent all day there, but as I had the tiny drunken monkey with me I figured just a couple hours would do! The admission fee was $5 per person, and children under 12 were free. I’m not sure if it was the excitement of releasing an Eagle or the cheap cheap entrance fee, but it was busy!
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Isla and I did a little wandering before the release, and other than my frightening attempt at explaining taxidermy to a two year old, we had a great time. The release itself ended up being a lot more emotional than I thought it would be! Bill Helin Drumming performed the release ceremony, and as the rescued Eagle took off, the crowd roared! I cry at anything (including Folger’s commercials) so I’m used to being pretty emotional, but I turned around and saw a few other people who were equally as amazed by the whole experience!

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After the release, I zipped around snapping some photos with my left hand as I juggled Isla in my right. She had definitely reached her mid-afternoon breakdown so I couldn’t spend too long there, but I think I got a few photos that I can paint from in the next couple weeks!

If you ever get the chance to attend the Eagle release, I would strongly recommend it! It was a beautiful day, and incredibly inspiring to watch.

 

-Isla Life

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Valley Vonka & The Hot Chocolate Factory

It’s here!

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Valley Vonka season is finally upon us (although it’s located dangerously close to bathing-suit season). This annual Y.A.N.A Fundraiser is guaranteed to rekindle all of those childhood dreams of finding a golden ticket in your chocolate bar!

 

From April 5th – April 26th 2018, the Comox Valley will be flooded with these limited edition Valley Vonka Chocolate bars (see below for locations!), kindly supplied by Hot Chocolates. The bars will be available for purchase by donation from a selection of local businesses, but I strongly recommend getting there before they all sell out like they did last year! All of the proceeds from the bars will be donated to Y.A.N.A, a local organization that helps support expectant mothers and families who are needing to travel to seek medical treatment for their children. There will also be 4 issues of the Comox Valley Record with a coloring competition for kids, with the chance to win chocolate for a year!

I hope you can all get out to purchase some bars, and maybe even win a golden ticket!

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Where to find the bars:

Hot Chocolates
Sure Copy
Courtney Anglin Realty
Crown Isle
Kingfisher Oceanside Resort
The Old House hotel & Spa
Blinds and Bubbles
Pilon Tools
Margot Rutherford
Canadian Tire
Bomback Accounting
Living Room Pharmacy
Return it Depot
Mackenzie Gartside & Associates
YANA Comox Valley

 

 

Happy Eating! xoxo

Thanksgiving Humps

Laying in bed this morning, I could still feel the waves swaying beneath me. I didn’t sleep a wink, but then again it isn’t too often that your dreams fail to compete with the reality you experienced the day before.

IMG_6515.jpgJust a stunning view of the North Island. 

Saturday morning started in Port Hardy. The weather was typical of the North Island; grey, wet and bloody freezing. I packed as many layers of clothing as I could in to my backpack, threw my half charged camera in its case, inhaled a hand full of chocolate raisins and headed out the door.

The road down to Telegraph Cove seemed longer than I remember, but roads always do when you are eager to get to the end of them. We parked up for the day, and headed down to the dock to sign in. Even as the rain started to pour, as we approached the boat we could feel the energy of everyone around us change; we were absolutely kids in a candy store.

As we stood at the bow of the boat prior to departure, we were encourage to take a moment to introduce ourselves. As I looked around and listened to everyone’s introductions, I couldn’t help but smile as I realized I was in the presence of greatness. It was truly a group of passionate, eager and insanely interesting people, and there wasn’t one person on that boat who I didn’t want to know more about by the end of the day.

Leaving the dock I had no idea what to expect. All I knew is I had never seen a Humpback Whale before, and that the chances of seeing one at this time of year was quite high. As we headed out of Telegraph Cove, I overheard Jackie say to another guest “you WILL see Humpbacks today”. As I looked out over the water I thought to myself, “Dammit Jackie, now you’ve jinxed us we’re not going to see one”. Luckily for myself and everyone else on the boat Jackie was right, and I will never question the Hump Queen’s knowledge of Humps again.

Within a few minutes of leaving the dock, a group of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins joined us. It was in this moment I realized just how spoiled we are living here on the West Coast, and also what a fortunate life I have lived so far, as my first thought when I saw the Dolphins was legitimately, “I’ve seen these before, move over I want to see Humpbacks”. So I gave my little princess-self a metaphorical kick in the butt, and decided to embrace the salty little acrobats. I took a deep breath, acknowledged just how incredibly lucky we are, and soaked up every beautiful moment with them.

IMG_6551.jpgPacific White-Sided Dolphin swimming in our wake. 

The Pacific White-Sided Dolphins continued on with their day, and so did our boat. We headed out past a couple groups of Steller Sea Lion groups partying on an island that I do not know the name of. (There actually wasn’t one point in the entire excursion where I knew where we were, and I am okay with that.) And although I have seen my fair share of Sea Lions since moving to Canada, they still hold such a special place in my heart and it was really amazing to see them.

Just around the corner from the Stellers, a small Black-Tailed Deer was feeding from the seaweed covered rocks. There were many moments during the day reminding me of how connected our land and ocean are to one another, but this was certainly a shining example of that for me.

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Black Tailed Deer feeding off the sea weed. 

As we journeyed beyond the Dolphins, Sea Lions and lone Deer, we all knew what was coming next: Humpbacks. Before they day begun, I had fully envisioned one single defining moment for when saw my first Humpback. It would breach over a rainbow and we’d come home and that would be it. However as we past the little seaweed-munching deer, I looked around to one, two, three, seven Humpbacks. They were everywhere. We could see them in the distance, we could see them up close. There were so many my brain stopped computing that we were in a unique situation, and Humpback blows and salty little hooked humps carving through the surface just became the new normal.  By the end of the day I couldn’t really remember what it was like to look out at the ocean and not see some sort of large cetacean swimming by.

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Just a lot of Humps.

During our Humpback encounter, we were able to witness a sample of their feeding techniques, including lunge feeding and trap feeding. Lunge feeding involves the whale “lunging” forward in the water and engulfing large amounts of prey. Trap feeding works similar to Venus-fly trap, where the whale “hangs” in the water with it’s mouth open and directs food in to its mouth with its long flippers. (Reference: Jackie the Hump Queen).

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Humpback Whale “Trap-Feeding”.

As we moved on from the Humpbacks, we encountered approx. 30 Resident Killer Whales. Similar to the Humps, everywhere we looks we saw Orcas. To the left, to the right, out in front, we were surrounded in the best possible way. We were fortunate enough to see a couple of babies in among them as well, however my personal favorite moment was watching them rubbing themselves along the shorelines. Although this isn’t a rare behavior from Orcas, apparently it isn’t all too common for people to see it, so we felt very fortunate!

For more infomation on Killer Whale rubbing I will direct you here otherwise I will be writing forever – https://themarinedetective.com/2015/02/08/rub-me-right-beach-rubbing-behaviour-of-northern-resident-orca/

IMG_6721.jpgResident Killer Whale itself along the beach.

After this moment my camera battery died, but the stunning nature displays didn’t. Upon our return we encountered more Humpbacks, as well as some Transient Killer Whales swimming among a group of Steller Sea Lions (still not sure if I am happy or sad that they weren’t hungry).

The whole day was utter perfection, and other than the birth of my daughter, I really can’t remember a more iconic and life-changing experience. Being around such incredible people, all so passionate and driven to learn more about our oceans was truly an inspiring experience. I left a little bit of my heart out there on the ocean yesterday, and I cannot wait to get back out there and just continue to learn more.

This whole trip was part of a fundraiser for the Marine Research and Education Society (M.E.R.S), made possible by Stubbs Island Whale Watching and many other incredible and passionate supporters. Perhaps yesterday’s spectacular experience, was nature’s way of saying thank you to everyone on the boat for choosing to support such a worthwhile cause. Whatever the reason, I am so grateful for being part of it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

IMG_6638.jpgTrying to sneak under the boat (the engine was off- See a blow, Go SLOW!)