Two days of ‘wildlife gone wild’!

Often the best gifts are those received when you least expect them. I have been known to be comically talented at not seeing wildlife– when I explicitly set out to view carnivores and other wildlife I am remarkably good at JUST missing them. As such, being lucky enough to be blessed with wildlife encounters when I’m not expecting them fills me with giddy glee. I (and the team) have been lucky enough to receive such gifts in spades over the past 2 days, with wildlife encounters galore!

The first such encounter happened on Calvert Island – two of our team members (Chris and Doug) were taking part in a Coastal Guardian Watchmen conference held at the Hakai Beach Institute (find out more about the conference here – QQS blog).   Christina and I joined them on the boat ride down and split the day between a visit to the beautiful Koeye River, home of Koeye Camp, and hiking Calvert’s beaches.

After a relaxing campfire we all went to bed to rest our weary bones and prepare for our upcoming return to the field. In the wee morning hours, around 5 am, I woke up to ‘mark my territory’. Just as I was stepping out of the tent I noticed someone walking down the beach. I thought it odd that someone was out this early in the morning. As the ‘person’ got closer though I realized it wasn’t a person at all – it was one of Calvert’s famous wolves! When he was around 30 feet away he noticed me reaching for my camera, stopped, and we both had a moment of checking each other out before I snapped the very blurry shot below.  He then walked a few feet and lifted his leg against a piece of driftwood, reminding me I was a guest in his territory.

Wolf on Calvert Island

The following day, our first back in the field for our third and final round, we were boating through a particularly achingly beautiful part of the coast. Howard, one of our remarkably talented boatmen who doubles as an expert of this area’s seas and lands, told Christina and I he could see a bear on the shore, almost a kilometer away. Given that he didn’t have binoculars, a telescope, or even a camera with zoom on him at the time we were a tad skeptical. However, a bear it was indeed! As we got closer we (or, more accurately, Howard) realized she had company – 2 cubs in the tree above her!

Bear cubs

We were feeling quite blessed for the remainder of the day. However, a final surprise remained! Just as we docked our boat at the field station and were about to tell the other crew about our luck, a humpback whale (the first most of us have seen this year) appeared, feeding just in front of our field station!

Humpback whale in front of Raincoast field station

This past couple of days has offered but a glimpse of the beauty this area has to offer, but this glimpse has both given a much-needed boost in energy for our long days in the field and has reminded us of the importance of the work that we do.  Stay tuned for more updates from the team in the days ahead!

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Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

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Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.