Join me in the cold, dark, life-sustaining NE Pacific Ocean to discover the great beauty, mystery and fragility hidden there.


[Note the following is aimed at those with an association with Telegraph Cove, British Columbia. There have been developments whereby I am being asked many questions and have chosen this as a way to answer and to bundle information. If you do not have an association with Telegraph Cove, this blog item may not have interest for you.]

The emotion:

Yes, I am heartbroken.

It’s the heartbreak that comes when decisions made by people you care about, hurt other people you care about.

It’s the hurt that comes from loving a place and the community associated with it.

It’s about an ending that did not need to be.

It’s about whale watching from Telegraph Cove, British Columbia.

I am sharing this information because of the number of questions I am being asked about what happened. I am being seen as a source of information because of my attachment to Telegraph Cove and my involvement with both parties – Telegraph Cove Resorts and Stubbs Island Whale Watching. I believe this necessitates my explaining my association with them.

Also, candidly, the writing of this is also likely to help me process what has happened. I have only recently learned of the developments myself.

My background in Telegraph Cove: 

For almost 20 years, I have been involved with Stubbs Island Whale Watching which has operated out of Telegraph Cove since 1980. Telegraph Cove is a historic boardwalk community on NE Vancouver Island. For many years it has been owned and cared for by Telegraph Cove Resort Ltd.

It was a whale watching trip with Stubbs Island Whale Watching in 1998 that was the catalyst for my returning to British Columbia after having taught in the Netherlands. I wanted to learn from Nature and, having experienced firsthand the understanding that came from the power of seeing whales in the wild, I hoped I could apply my skills as an educator to contribute more directly to conservation.

In 1999, I began as a Naturalist with the company. I became Head Naturalist and, since 2011, I have served as an advisor to the new ownership for issues related to conservation and education. These roles were aimed at helping to make the experience of seeing marine wildlife count for the sake of conservation because  . . . not all whale watching companies are created equal.

The environmental ethics and contributions of Stubbs Island Whale Watching’s founders (Mackays and Borrowmans) were world renown and tied directly to whale research, and their location and use of larger boats meant that noise and fossil fuels could be better managed.

The aim was to enhance and ensure delivery of a program that could maximize meaningful messaging that might help people undertake life changes for the health of the whales (and future generations). The value of the experience, in terms of potential conservation outcomes, had to be so good that it could make the carbon and noise worth it. The aim was to continue the company’s ethics of being anything BUT about “getting up close and personal”. It was to try really hard to make the privileged experience of seeing whales in the wild count, tangibly.

The education delivered on the boats was a big part of this as was my hiring and training the biologists that had the depth of dedication and ethics to carry out this program. It has been such a source of joy to see how these team members have carried the experience of working from Telegraph Cove, and learning from wildlife, into their careers in conservation-related fields.

My being a co-founder of the Marine Education and Research Society is directly linked to Telegraph Cove and Stubbs Island Whale Watching. It was from their boats that we first documented the return of Humpback Whales and, since 2004, they have been our greatest data contributor as well as providing support in many other ways.

The kindness, generosity and support of Telegraph Cove Resort Ltd. has also played a major role in my life regarding diving, education and research. My boat is moored there. I dive from there. My footsteps have stomped on that boardwalk thousands and thousands of times.

Maintaining the historical flavour of Telegraph Cove is clearly a labour of love and the Whale Interpretive Centre (WIC) could not succeed without the involvement and support of Telegraph Cove Resorts. I am a past director, manager and chair of the society behind the WIC and still provide tours there when asked.

I will say it again, there are many people I really care about whose lives are connected to the beautiful place that is, Telegraph Cove.

The facts: 

So what has happened?

Autumn 2018

  • Stubbs Island Whale Watching was put up for sale by the three owners for a variety of personal reasons.

December 2018

  • Telegraph Cove Resorts Ltd. informed Stubbs Island Whale Watching they would not be renewing their lease.

January 22, 2019

  • Telegraph Cove Resorts announces that another whale watching company will now be operating out of Telegraph Cove.
  • Stubbs Island Whale Watching makes an announcement about the repercussions. There is no more Stubbs Island Whale Watching.

The announcements: 

Media release Stubbs Island Whale Watching – January 22, 2019 

Stubbs Island Whale Watching is closing its doors after 38 years

BC’s first whale watching company, Stubbs Island Whale Watching, is
closing its doors after 38 years in business.  Renowned for its dedication
to ethical wildlife viewing, education and conservation, the company has
welcomed nearly half a million visitors to the North Island experience
since it was established in 1980.

The closure comes following an unexpected change in the company’s office
space lease agreement with Telegraph Cove Resort after more than three
decades operating from that location. Our lease agreement will end on
January 31, 2019.  Stubbs Island Whale Watching was put up for sale at the
end of the 2018 season, but we planned to continue operating the company
until a purchaser was found. The changes to the lease agreement came as a

Guests from all over the world come to experience whales in the wild and
the company’s ethical whale viewing practices have been part of what made
us so renowned. Stubbs Island Whale Watching is informing reservations
holders of the change and attempting to shift reservations to Discovery
Marine Safaris in Campbell River, a smaller company owned by one of the
three owners of Stubbs Island Whale Watching.

For information call: 1-250-928-3185.

Thank you for your years of support.

The owners of Stubbs Island Charters Ltd. Heike Wieske, Geord Dunstan, Roger McDonell” 

Telegraph Cove Resort – January 22, 2019

The following is from the January 22nd article in the Campbell River Mirror with quotes from Telegraph Cove Resort.

“Stubbs Island’s announcement today was quickly followed by an announcement by Telegraph Cove Resort that it was teaming up with Victoria-based Prince of Whales Whale & Marine Wildlife Adventures “to enhance marine wildlife habitat and research while providing greater opportunities for outstanding eco-tourism.”

Resort owners Gordie and Marilyn Graham said they are pleased to welcome one of the province’s “largest and most-respected whale watching and eco-adventure companies” to their recreational seaside haven. The release made no mention of their relationship with Stubbs Island.

“I’ve always been impressed by the Prince of Whales’ work in marine conservation and academic research,” Gordie said. “Their principled approach dovetails perfectly with our continuing efforts to protect marine wildlife while delighting and educating visitors with awe-inspiring experiences in nature.

The Grahams established a campground and marina at Telegraph Cove in 1979, drawing enthusiasts to the great recreational ocean fishing. Over 40 years, their work restoring original buildings for tourist accommodation has brought life back to the former sawmill town. Today, the resort, which can accommodate up to 500 guests, also includes a restaurant and pub, general store, small hotel and Telegraph Cove’s Whale Interpretative Centre.

One of the last boardwalk settlements left on Vancouver Island, Telegraph Cove attracts thousands of whale watchers, fishermen, boaters, campers and kayakers every year.

As well as building a tourist mecca, 210 km northwest of Campbell River, the Grahams have invested in marine life protection and education, donating more than $150,000 to salmon enhancement projects.

Meanwhile, Stubbs Island Whale Watching is informing reservations holders of the change and attempting to shift reservations to Discovery Marine Safaris in Campbell River, a smaller company owned by one of the three owners of Stubbs Island Whale Watching. Guests looking for information can call: 1-250-928-3185

Stubbs Island Charters Ltd. started whale watching in 1980 out of Telegraph Cove and has worked to establish a reputation as a company that puts the wildlife first. The company supported research and education efforts, providing meaningful education to guests, modeling best practices, and sharing expertise to help build a community now known as the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association. For the past six years it has received a “Certificate of Excellence” from Trip Advisor for its many five-star reviews.”

There you have it.

Any further factual developments will be added to the content here.

My deep empathy to those for whom this news is difficult too.

Onward, facing reality and being guided by what is best for the whales and what they reveal of human value systems and the state of the environment  . . . upon which our lives depend.


Telegraph Cove in 2008. ©Jackie Hildering.

Related blogs:

The Woman Behind the Words . . .

Who is the woman behind the words AND the images?

A beloved friend has advised “Jackie, you need to step into the spotlight more” i.e. making more evident who The Marine Detective is.

For a whole soup of emotions/reasons, I am more comfortable being behind the camera in this role. That’s why I chose for the moniker “The Marine Detective” rather than my name. But okay – here’s an image highly representative of who I am, tutu and all.

Photo: ©Jacqui Engel, September 2018.

I will also share a story that is rather typical regarding there being a bias that leads to misidentifying who the voice is here on TMD.

Here goes . . . I was having lunch in a local restaurant and had one of my calendars on the table. The waitress, a lovely young woman, bounded over, saw the calendar and said: “The Marine Detective! Oh my god, I love him!”. I quietly asked, “Who do you love?” She enthusiastically said, “The Marine Detective! I follow him on social media!” and then very generously provided her views on the value of the work.

I stood up and felt compelled to stand in front of her and said softly, “I am The Marine Detective”.

What I interpret of her reaction is that she could not reconcile that the age, gender and stature of the person in front of her could be the actual force behind what she had described.

Is it important? I have come to understand that it is. That, by simply living out what I perceive to be my calling, I can help shift biases with regard to age and gender.

I am a 55-year-old woman in science who hurls herself into a cold ocean to learn from the life there, who drives a boat, studies whales, speaks from the heart, and who wants for equality in the world for the betterment of all.

That’s that for a while. Going back behind the camera now.

Oh, and why the tutu? If it’s new to you that it’s what I wear when I dive, please see my blog “Life is Hard? Wear a Tutu” at this link.

They Can’t Thrive If We Don’t Change.

[Dear folks, I anticipate some of you will have resistance to what I write below but I have to go there – not to bemoan problems, but in the desperate want for positive change.]

When will we get it? When?!

A science-based decision is made to extend critical habitat for the 74 endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales and what happens? Seventeen British Columbian coastal Chambers of Commerce “unite” in wanting to slow down potential further implementation measures claiming there has not been enough science done. The media release is here.

I understand the climate of uncertainty I really do when you have a Federal Government that wants a pipeline to go through and is being “assessed” on how it will impact the marine environment.

However, we cannot continue in the same way “defending” ourselves against potential fisheries closures and measures to reduce disturbance to the whales, claiming to love the whales and using them as a resource.

This is so difficult to articulate but you cannot keep on keeping on and expect things to change for the better, especially in a world that is undergoing climate change.

If we change we’ll lose jobs, jobs, jobs. Will we? What if we had a transition plan? What if we got ahead of the curve? What if we shed fear and entitlement and embraced precaution and human ingenuity, but not as an exit strategy? 

Pride and positive ownership can be taken in choosing for more modest takes of salmon i.e. leaving Chinook for the Orca, and in wildlife viewing that reduces stresses to the whales.

While we’re at it, let’s realize we are literally driving climate change and increased large vessel traffic on our coast through our excessive consumerism and demand for fossil fuels and our resistance to change, absence of understanding science, and being manipulated with fear.

Further, the idea that salmon enhancement is a panacea defies science, especially in light of climate change and the fact that we are releasing juvenile salmon into a gauntlet of open net-pen salmon farms (which indisputably amplify and transmit disease and parasites). Note too that salmon enhancement facilities are very often beholden to the open net salmon farming industry as funders. Oh what a web we weave . .

Precaution is not “let’s make sure we have done even more studies and then we’ll know for sure.” Precaution is the duty to prevent harm, even in the light of uncertainty and this involves urgency, not dragging our heals, gambling with the future.

When will we learn to draw a bigger temporal circle around our consideration of economy?

When will we truly recognize that the Orca are serving as indicators of environmental health and barometers of our value systems? The ultimate truth is that how we treat the whales will ultimately be how we treat ourselves, especially future generations.

We are all consumers and voters here. We are all empowered to influence change.

Photo: Member of the endangered Southern Residents in Blackfish Sound, ©Jackie Hildering.

In an effort to protect their communities, the Chambers of Alberni Valley, Bamfield, Campbell River, Chemainus & District, Comox Valley, Duncan-Cowichan, Ladysmith, Greater Nanaimo, Parksville & District, Port Hardy, Port McNeill & District, Port Renfrew, Qualicum Beach, Sooke, Tofino-Long Beach, Ucluelet and WestShore have united to form a coalition called Thriving Orcas, Thriving Coastal Communities . . .
As British Columbians who are now concerned about the survival of our own businesses and communities, we urge the federal government to slow down the implementation of any additional management measures, take the time to get the science right and engage coastal stakeholders,” said Ablack. “Potential restrictive management measures, such as a fin fish closure, that are based on faulty data and limited science could end up destroying our communities and do nothing to help the orcas. On the other hand, a carefully considered multi-faceted approach that includes deeper investments in restoration, enhancement, science and monitoring could ensure that orcas and coastal communities thrive* together as we have for generations.”

[*Note: The Orca are NOT thriving.]

How Do Octopuses Poo?

It’s one of the characteristics that unifies every living thing on the planet – we all need to get rid of waste.

How do octopuses do it? See the video and explanation below.

Why share? Because I solidly believe the world can be a better place through understanding and respecting the commonalities and differences of others AND through marvelling at the natural world.

With great thanks to Krystal Janecki for her video and Neil McDaniel and Jim Cosgrove for their knowledge.

Video above: Giant Pacific Octopus defecating by ©Krystal Janicki November 5 2018, Madrona in Nanoose Bay, British Columbia, Canada. Observations are that in areas where octopuses appear to be eating more bivalves like Swimming Scallops, the poo is whiter / paler in colour. In areas where they appear to be eating more Red Rock Crabs, the poo is various shades of red. (Source: Jim Cosgrove, personal communication).   

The detail below on octopus digestion is from “Super Suckers – The Giant Pacific Octopus and Other Cephalopods of the Pacific Coast
by James A. Cosgrove & Neil McDaniel (Harbour Publishing):

“The first structure for food gathering [in octopuses] is the interbrachial web, the umbrella-like membrane between the arms that the octopus used to enfold food such as crabs, shrimps and sometimes even fishes and birds.The web forms a bag-like container that holds prey close the the mouth . . .

Giant Pacific Octopus hunting. Notice the webbing between the arms = the interbrachial web. 
©Jackie Hildering.

The second structure is the mouth. An octopus has two pair of salivary glads, anterior (front) and posterior (rear). The posterior salivary glans produce a toxin called cephalotoxin. in giant Pacific octopuses this is not known to be deadly to humans, whereas in the blue-ringed octopus of the South Pacific it has killed people. When an octopus captures food in its web, it secretes cephalotoxin into the water, where it is absorbed through the gills of its prey. The neurotoxin affects the nervous system and causes the prey to lose consciousness and stop struggling. The octopus can then use its suckers to aid in dismembering prey such as crab.

The beak, the hardest part of the octopus, is made of the same chitonous material as human fingernails. It is black and looks like the beak of a parrot. The mouth also has a specialized tongue called a radula. The file-like organ is covered with tiny, sharp teeth that are replaced when they wear down, much as sharks regrow teeth. The radular teeth shred the prey’s tissue once the beak has bitten the food into chunks. Working together with the beak and radula are secretions of the anterior (front) salivary gland. The gland produces a mixture of substances called enzymes, which cause the food to break down quickly inot a jelly-like substance that can be easily digested. A combination of the enzymes and the radula enables an octopus to winkle even the tiniest bit of tissue out of the tip of a crab’s leg.

Giant Pacific Octopus beak. It’s made of keratin.

Once the food is captured, eaten and swallowed, it travels along a short tube called the esophagus (similar to the throat in a human) to a structure called the crop. This is not exactly the same as a bird’s crop, but it does function as a storage place for undigested food.

If the stomach is empty, food passed immediately from the crop to the stomach, which despite distinct differences, functions much like our stomach. In the giant Pacific octopus the digestive enzymes do not come from the wall of the stomach but are produced by the live and introduced into the stomach through ducts. These enzymes cause the food to break down into small molecules that the blood absorbs and transports back to the liver. There they are processed and distributed to the cells of the body. This dual-function liver is different from a human’s whose liver primarily deals with the products of digested food.

Summary of octopus digestion. Source: Super Suckers by James Cosgrove and Neil McDaniel
Harbour Publishing. Illustration by Adrienne Atkins.

Now we find another major difference from vertebrates such as humans and also from squids. Once the food in the octopus stomach is digested, the waste material has to be evacuated. The octopus stomach, however, has only a single tube leading in and out. This means that the waste material must be evacuated through the same tube the food entered before more food can be introduced for digestion. You might call this the “digestion on the instalment plan.” The waste comes out of the stomach into the intestine, which encapsulates it and moves it along till it eventually reaches the end of the intestine located at the entrance to the funnel [aka siphon]. Octopus poop, ejected from the funnel, looks a bit like a slender . . . ribbon . . . .

In giant Pacific octopuses the processing of food, depending on what is being eaten, can take many hours. On average these octopuses make six hunting trips a day, reposing in their den most of the time while they process food.”

Below, video of a giant Pacific octopus hunting. In this encounter, the octopus passes directly over a mature male Wolf Eel in his den. THEN, a Decorator Warbonnet emerges as well.


Diagram below names addition octopus anatomy.

Further octopus anatomy. Source: Super Suckers by James Cosgrove and Neil McDaniel
Harbour Publishing. Illustration by Adrienne Atkins.

Into the Forest

Submerge into the forest with me.

Escape for just a little while.

Immerse into the beauty. Feel the fragility?

Know your connection and reliance and . . . embrace the humility of it all.

Hoping these photos from today’s dive in a Bull Kelp forest provide you with all of that.

For more on the importance of kelp forests, please see the posts at this link. 

Down we go.November sun streaming into the Bull Kelp forest and . . . trees above the surface.
©2018 Jackie Hildering.


Split Kelp, Striped Sunstar and female Kelp Greenling. See her (orange fish)?
©2018 Jackie Hildering


Blood Star, Crimson Anemone, Pink Soft Coral, Giant Plumose Anemones, etc!
©2018 Jackie Hildering


Striped Sunstar just below the surface.
©2018 Jackie Hildering


Crimson and Giant Plumose Anemones (with a school of rockfish in the background).
©2018 Jackie Hildering


Proliferating Anemones on the stipes of Split Kelp and on a species of coralline algae.
©2018 Jackie Hildering.


Lingcod in the forest.
©2018 Jackie Hildering.


Northern Kelp Crab climbing in the Bull Kelp Forest.
©2018 Jackie Hildering.


And . . . following my bubbles to the surface, sun refracting through the Bull Kelp. Back to the terrestrial part of our world so reliant on the Ocean’s algae for the production of oxygen, buffering of carbon dioxide and as fuel in marine food webs. 
©2018 Jackie Hildering.

People’s Choice!

Still shaking my head at my site having won the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada’s “2018 People’s Choice Award for Best Canadian Website“. It is a People’s Choice Award so the winning is because of YOU.

Please see below from my interview with Trish Weatherall for the North Island Eagle where I try to express what the award means. Below that interview, I have included a listing of the other sites nominated for the award. Included are their social media links to make it easier to follow these great science resources.

Thank you so much for your support and belief in “The Marine Detective”.

Marine Detective wins People’s Choice
for Canadian science web site

By Trish Weatherall  – North Island Eagle 

The Marine Detective has gone national! In October, Port McNeill’s Jackie Hildering received the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada (SWCC) 2018 People’s Choice award for favourite Canadian science web site, for her site

Article as it appeared in the North Island Eagle. Click to enlarge.

Her reaction to winning the award is, “Stunned euphoria and a great depth of gratitude. I still feel like I have not come close to processing it. The other websites nominated for the award are of such a high calibre and most represent organizations (and even funded ones!) rather than an individual compelled to do this work.” 

The Marine Detective was up against 9 other popular Canadian science web sites: Earth Rangers; Hey Science – Science Sam; Inside the Perimeter; Quebec Science; Research2Reality; Science Alive; Science for the People; The Weather Network – Out of this World; and Tomatosphere – Let’s Talk Science. [Please see links for these sites below.]

Canadians voted online for their favourite site for two weeks beginning Sept. 24. Hildering received an email on Oct. 10 from the SWCC that said, “I’m pleased to tell you that your site blew it out of the water and The Marine Detective is the Winner of SWCC’s 2018 People’s Choice Award for Favourite Canadian Science Site! Your followers and, I suspect, new fans gave your site more than enough love to win. Congratulations!”

Hildering, who is also a whale researcher, marine educator, diver, photographer and co-founder of the Marine Education and Research Society (MERS), created the Marine Detective web site in 2010 with a goal of educating the public about life in the Pacific-North ocean through her underwater photography.

“Awards like this, give some sort of measure to what I try to do,” said Hildering. “It lends credibility and recognition and has amplified the reach of what I am trying to achieve as The Marine Detective. But, much more importantly, it has made so clear that there is a large community that believes in the importance of this work. I feel so supported, affirmed, motivated and grateful. To know that people cared enough and believed in the work as they did, this is like jet fuel for me to keep at it. I feel like I have been lifted up by those who voted and moved forward to continue the work.”

The Marine Detective web site uses the tagline ‘Join me in the cold, dark, life-sustaining NE Pacific Ocean to discover the great beauty, mystery and fragility hidden there’, and includes a blog, her ocean life photos, and the ability to order her prints on canvas, her WILD calendar, and her Find the Fish children’s book.

“I want what I capture in photography to lead to greater interest and connection to the North-East Pacific Ocean and greater conservation actions for the sake of the well-being of future generations,” she said. “There is such a bias toward warmer waters having more life in them and this is highly problematic in too many of us not understanding that it is these dark plankton-rich waters that can sustain giants like the world’s biggest sea star, barnacle, sea lion, whales, etc.”

Hildering is striving to bring this understanding to more Canadians through as many venues as possible. In addition to the web site, she has a Facebook page (with the popular Find the Fish photo on Fridays), holds public information sessions throughout coastal BC, and has been featured on Animal Planet’s Wild Obsession series, and two BBC documentaries.

In early October, she was filmed locally for a PBS documentary on whale evolution.

“An important part of the documentary will be our area and speaking for how we humans can evolve further in our attitudes and actions towards whales and the ecosystems for which they are indicators.”

She is planning on writing more children’s books and a book for adults that will focus on what she has learned in the North Island area and how easy it is to create positive change when fear is replaced by knowledge and when our value systems change.

She has also recently applied for the Sony Alpha Female program for a chance to be one of five women to receive mentorship, training and support through a $25,000 grant and $5,000 in camera equipment.

“I want what I learn and experience in our remarkable area to count for more,” she said. “I want the words and photos to go further to create more socio-environmental good and counter eco-phobia and eco-paralysis where people are overwhelmed thinking that the problems of the world are disparate rather than knowing there are common solutions and that it is about gain in quality of life rather than loss.”

Social media links for the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada
“The Science Writers and Communicators of Canada foster quality science communication, linking science & technology communicators from coast to coast.”

Runners up for the People’s Choice Award:

  • Research2Reality: “Research2Reality is a groundbreaking initiative that shines a spotlight on Canadian scientists who are engaged in innovative and leading edge research.”

Other Canadian science sites that were nominated: 

  • Earth Rangers: ” Earth Rangers is the kids conservation organization! Our programs inspire over 100 thousand members to learn about the environment and help protect animals.”


Shine Brighter . . .

The following is not a science post. It is an #OceanVoice post = my thoughts about hope, our connection to the environment, and positive action for the sake of greater health and happiness. It is meant to be inspirational and, maybe, empowering.


It’s hard. I know it can be hard. But, it’s the only way forward, and out of the dark.

We live in complicated times where fear is used as a blunt tool.

Fear of the other. Fear of loss. Fear of change. Fear amplified in our not understanding the way forward is the same for most (if not all), socio-environmental problems. Thereby, our light can diminish and even be exhausted whereby . . . we add to the darkness.

So important to realize is: Fear thrives in the dark. Fear masks truth. Fear chokes potential. Fear makes us automatons, marching on, ignoring the reality around us. Fear walks hand-in-hand with disempowerment, the same neurons firing, limiting the way we look at the world and ourselves. And above all, FEAR LOATHES CHANGE.

Thereby, fear is such a powerful tool to be used by those who benefit from things remaining the same.

How to counter fear? Shine the light forward, living lives of connection, empowerment, celebration of human ingenuity (but not as an exit strategy) and understanding that using less is about GAIN, not loss.

Shine on. Show the way out of the dark.

For more #OceanVoice, please see click here. 

Lessons Learned from Octopuses

It’s Canadian Thanksgiving and World Octopus Day (OCTOber 8th = get it?).

There’s so much to be grateful for. The health and freedom that allows me to live this life of depth; the love and support of buddies, family and community; AND the lessons learned, ESPECIALLY from octopuses.

What essential life lessons learned from them?

  1. Do not fear what may look foreign;
  2. Respect alternative intelligences;
  3. If necessary, blend in to escape detection;
  4. When you know what you want, hold on tight;
  5. Trust in your ability to squeeze through tight spaces and come out okay on the other side;
  6. Ink out the negative in your life and jet away, leaving it behind you;
  7. Know your home and keep the garbage outside; and
  8. Be big-hearted (octopuses have three), guard the next generation, and use your beak when needed!

And what’s going on in this photo? All is told about my buddy, this female Giant Pacific Octopus, and the Copper Rockfish (see him/her?) in my blog “Gentle Giants. What to do when you find your dive buddy with a Giant Pacific Octopus on her head“.

And thankful for YOU that you care enough to read this blog and help make my efforts feel so worthwhile. I’ll stay at it till I am an octogenarian (and beyond).

Today’s Dive – a photo essay and ode to Bull Kelp

Kelp forests – where would we be without them?

Habitat for so many species, oxygen production, carbon dioxide buffering, navigation aid, food production, and then the astounding aesthetic beauty that bonds us from the surface to the depths.

For you, photos from today on both sides of the world bonded by Bull Kelp.


Waiting to dive with dive buddy Jacqui Engel (pictured here). The first shift of divers is in the water.

What to do but soak up the beauty?

So much beauty.

The audio backdrop . . . 3 Humpbacks exhaling, their blows rolling over the water together with the growls of Steller Sea Lions; gulls shrieking in competition for herring at the surface; and Pacific Harbour Seals occasionally groaning while basking in the sun. This is “Squiggle” (BCX0097) the Humpback. We, at the Marine Education & Research Society, have documented him since 1999.

Waiting just a little longer .

And they’re up! Here, buddy Dwayne Rudy surfaces.

And down we go, below the kelp. Here, so many Proliferating Anemones with babies under the protective canopy of their mother’s tentacles, and many Green Urchins.

Do you see the babies of different colours under their mother’s tentacles i.e. Pink moms with orange babies and vice versa. Unlike with Brooding Anemones, the babies of Proliferating Anemones can be of different ages i.e. they need not all be the same brood. Also, see the Blue-Lined Chiton? For detail on the differences between Brooding and Proliferating Anemones, see my blog at this link.

The we just hung under the surface, basking in the sun shining through the kelp. I tried to capture the beauty for you . . .

Under the canopy of Bull Kelp.

Time to go up after an hour’s blissful escape. Here is buddy Jacqui on our safety stop.

Then I photographed at the surface for at bit to try to capture the beauty of the kelp mirrored there. Thank you Jacqui for the photo.

Time to head back to the boat (seen here in the background, on the right).

Hello buddies! Left the right: Dwayne, Brenda, Natasha, Jacqui and Andy in our dive club’s boat. Dive club is the Top Island Econauts.

I guess when you frequently take photos of your buddies underwater, they are going to return the favour at the surface. Thank you Jacqui for this photo. 

When you’re happy and you know it. Thank you kelp for all you give (and to you Jacqui​ for the photo).

And below, for your amusement, Jacqui also videoed a strange marine mammal.

Video re. August 1st, 2018 Orca / Boat Interaction Near Langdale

Recently, there have again been posts shared widely on social media promoting “encounters” where Orca are very close to boats.

My video compilations below about an August 1st incident are an attempt to counteract the effects of such promotions in their increasing pressure on the whales.

It is an attempt to educate, not to shame or vilify.

Those in the video appear to have acted in ignorance but there is the moral and ethical weight to know regulations and the repercussions of your actions, including when you put videos of such encounters into the world.  Sharing such imagery perpetuates ignorance around what is legal, rewards those who have undertaken such behaviours, and feeds the pressure to be “up close and personal”

Know that behaviours shown by the whales is associated with disturbance i.e. repeated tail-lobbing and the tail breaches / caudal peduncle throws.

The incident is under investigation by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

For Marine Mammal Regulations, best practices and boater safety tips see Report incidents to 1-800-465-4336.

Part One

Part Two – shows the boat is in close proximity to the whales while at high speed.