The closer I got to Alert Bay the bigger my smile became. I’d finally arrived at the start of the biggest and best adventure I’d always dreamed of. The sun was shining the totem poles were at their brightest and there were beaming smiles all round. After I’d met everyone and dumped my stuff, I went to explore Alert Bay; first stop the U’mista Cultural Centre; full of amazing regalia and facts on the first nation culture and the meanings behind the different regalia and masks. Inspired by the museum and eager to learn more I was happy to learn we had Ernest Alfred (cultural interpreter) as a member of our team, who along with his cousin Trevor performed a first nation welcome song at our first meeting in the whale museum, Telegraph Cove.
The meeting consisted of a number of VIP’s (Very Interesting People), from other cetacean researchers to kayakers and business owners. I got to see images and footage of the first North Pacific Right whale to be rediscovered in BC after 60 years. Hear about the mouth gaping and bubble feeding behaviour, recently found in individual humpback whales and even had my first encounter with a humpback on the way in. This was the start of my whale encounters and by my 4th day I’d seen 10, along with numerous dalls porpoise, pacific white-sided dolphins, sea lions, humming birds and bald eagles.
Another first experience I fulfilled this week is my no fish eating ways, I am now a fish eater and was cured in the best way; with sockeye salmon straight from the BC waters and BBQ on a fire on the beach. I’m also pretty new to proper camp life, before I came here I had only camped weekends and you know what… I LOVE IT!! I fall asleep and wake up to the sound of the ocean, the view of the bay and sometimes see whales passing by, I get to have dips in the sea on hot days, I don’t have to care what I look like, I’m surrounded by amazing people (Marie, Megan, Ernest, Erin and Erica) and the cutest dogs (Gala and Lutah) I’m starting to feel the burn a little less each time I hike up to Eagle Eye (thankfully), I get to look at the amazing view from the cliff every day while I work and I know I have lots more first experiences to come.