Official Blog of the Great Bear II
First class wilderness adventures and holiday cruises on the coast of British Columbia.
A federal agency, "The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, (NSERC), has withdrawn its funding for the proposed 'Batholiths Project"'s controversial seismic testing! For more details, visit www.raincoast.org. Thank you to everyone who wrote letters and sent emails in protest of the Batholiths Project! Those letters and emails really can make a difference!"
NEW TRIPS FOR 2007
Experience all the comforts of our new ship, Great Bear II, while whale watching on B.C.’s north coast. During this 5 day trip on B.C.’s north coast, guests will have the opportunity to take part in Humpback Whale research, meeting the two biologists from Cetacealab who live and work here. See “Whale Watching” and our “Schedule” or contact us for more details.
We are offering an exciting new itinerary for wildlife viewing on B.C.’s north coast. This 8 day trip, called “Magnificent Inlets of the Grizzly—North”, will begin and end in Prince Rupert. Dates for this voyage of discovery are May 26 to June 2, 2007. Call or email us for details!
With our new 54 foot ship, Great Bear II, we will now be offering cruises in the Vancouver area and south coast when the ship is in her home port of North Vancouver. Early spring, late summer and late fall, these trips will afford guests unending possibilities—cruise with us for a few hours or a full day or a weekend, even up to a week. Cruise Indian Arm, the bustling Port of Vancouver or see West Vancouver’s prestigious waterfront. Enjoy a weekend away to Bowen Island or Howe Sound. With a few more days you can explore Princess Louisa Inlet, Desolation Sound or the Gulf Islands.;
The ultimate Romantic Getaway awaits you on board Great Bear II. Surprise your partner with a romantic cruise. Propose, plan your wedding and/or honeymoon, or celebrate your anniversary! See “Custom Trips” for more details for your Romantic Getaway! Whether you want to fill your time with us with adventure and activity or simply sit back and relax, it’s all up to you! See “Vancouver Area” and “Custom Trips” for all the new possibilities for cruises.
GREAT BEAR II –THE SHIP
2006, promised to be consumed by all that needed to be done to have our new ship, Great Bear II, Transport Canada certified! After a blissful 4 days away at the Wickanninish, getting married, it was back to reality—every available day taken in preparation of the Great Bear II’s maiden voyage on B.C.’s coast. To say this process was epic, is an understatement. However, as Eric took the wheel and finally left Vancouver Harbour heading north, a sense of relief poured over him—heading out to the wilderness of our coastline will do that to him. When Trish stepped onto the Great Bear II in Bella Bella and into her large and well- appointed galley, she felt like she had come home.
ROMANCE AT SEA—Captain (Eric) and Chef (Trish) are Married!
On March 31st, 2006, Eric and Trish were married on Chesterman Beach near Tofino, with friends (and sometimes crew mates), Darren and Diana as witnesses. Getting married in one of nature’s wonderlands, four days at the Wickanninish Inn, walks on the beach, and fabulous meals prepared and served to us, was pure magic. Thank you to Darren and Diana for sharing this special time with us, for keeping the secret, and to our families and friends for understanding.
OREO and CALI
All of our guests that have travelled with us over the past years, would have been familiar with Trish and Eric’s stories of their sweet old cat, Oreo. Sad to say, Oreo passed away peacefully in July 2006 and we still miss her terribly. Our niece Nikola, an animal lover as well, thought we should have a new kitten and of course had one in mind. Cali is very social—she loves people, (including children), loves dogs and loves playing fetch—but she doesn’t love being out on the ship—not yet anyway.
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES TO WORK ON:
The “Batholiths Project” is a U.S. led seismic survey, set to begin on B.C.’s north coast in 2007. This seismic testing will take place in marine and terrestrial environments and poses a great threat to marine life and in particular, to marine mammals such as whales. Some of this testing will take place in areas where we have consistently witnessed humpbacks feeding in preparation for their migration to Hawaii. For more information and how you can help stop this project, visit www.raincoast.org or cetacealab.org.
This past season on British Columbia’s coast, there was a noticeable absence of wild salmon returning to the creeks and rivers in many areas. When biologists are asked the “why” question, they are quick to say that there could be many possible explanations—let’s face it, “it doesn’t take a scientist to tell us” that we haven’t been taking very good care of the planet! We all have to pick our issues to deal with but one we will be following closely this year will be the issue of sea lice infestations of juvenile wild salmon in areas where there are fish farms. Of course, the aquaculture community denies that fish farming is having any serious environmental impacts on marine life or on our own personal health. Just published, “Research Summary—Epizootics of Wild Fish Induced by Farm Fish”, finds that sea lice from fish farms cause up to a 95% mortality in young salmon! To read this summary, (and it is an easy read despite the name of it), go to www.raincoast.org.
If this paper doesn’t put you off farmed salmon forever, or compel you to act, think of the facts concerning the consumption of farmed salmon—besides the awful taste: The fish have naturally pale flesh—not the colour that you see in the supermarkets where they are sold—the supermarkets get a “colour wheel” from which to choose the colour they want the salmon they buy, to be! Aquaculture companies are not about to lose a whole pen of farmed salmon to disease when the fish are about to be sent to market—so they include high doses of antibiotic (and lord knows what else) in their feed! The list goes on……..
Besides how all this affects us in our food chain, there are the rest of the ecosystems that depend on the wild salmon to survive. Without the salmon the coastal ecosystems would collapse completely—no more bears, no more rain coast wolves, no more eagles or ravens, no more birds, small animals and insects that fish or depend on scavenging leftover salmon, and no more giant rainforest trees that depend on the salmon for essential nutrients! It’s time for our government to wake up—let’s let them know how we feel about farming salmon in “supernatural” British Columbia!
The “Enbridge Gateway Project” is perhaps one of the most frightening, potential threats to our coast! This project wasn’t just dreamed up recently—so why don’t most British Columbians even know about it?? That might well be a question for Premier Campbell or Prime Minister Harper! Apparently, for a number of years, there has been a plan, (which is already partly implemented), to build an oil pipeline from the oil sands in Alberta to the port of Kitamaat on B.C.’s north coast. A pipeline all on its own might not ruffle too many feathers, but when more people found out that crude oil super tankers would be transporting the crude oil from Kitimat, down Douglas Channel, right past where the highest concentration of Spirit Bears live, past Hartley Bay, (and no one asked them what they thought!), and right by where the B.C. Ferry Queen of the North went down, a few more people started to ask questions!
If a B.C. Ferry can’t manage to keep afloat in this area, how, we ask, will the oil super tankers make out?? Does the name “Exxon Valdeez” ring any bells?? B.C. Ferries and the government of British Columbia are still allowing diesel to leak from the sunken Queen of the North—diesel that has spoiled a lot of the traditional food sources of the people of Hartley Bay—the very people that went to save the passengers that were on the sinking Queen of the North! Hmmm—I wonder what they’d do if an oil tanker broke apart and spilled crude oil—that would eventually decimate the north coast!? More questions for Premier Campbell and Prime Minister Harper! To learn more about this project and how you can have your voice heard on this very important issue, visit www.raincoast.org
LONG AWAITED SPIRIT BEAR CONSERVANCY ANNOUNCED!
In a Feb. 7, 2006 announcement, the Province and First Nations agreed to significantly increase protection on the B.C. north and central coast. This is very good news. This includes tripling the size of the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary and creating a new Spirit Bear Conservancy Complex. These are two of the protection initiatives that the Valhalla Wilderness Society (VWS) has spearheaded for nearly 20 years.
Visit www.vws.org for more details. Here at Ocean Adventures we are very happy about this recent development but we also know that more must be done to ensure the survival of the Spirit Bear!
WHAT DOES “CONSERVATION” AND “PROTECTION” MEAN?
As Raincoast’s Chris Genovali says, “less than 20% of salmon watersheds are to receive full protection on the central and north coast under the Great Bear Rainforest deal.” The B.C. government calls this deal “world class conservation”. The government of B.C. talks a lot about “protecting the Spirit Bear”! What the B.C. government neglected to do was to explain to us their definitions of “conservation” and “protection”. If the Spirit Bear is “protected”, shouldn’t the black bears that produce the white phase be protected from Trophy and Sport Hunting?! In most of the proposed new B.C. Parks, the Black Bears that may produce the white phase, (known as Spirit Bears), will still be hunted for trophies or sport!! If the Spirit Bear is “protected”, shouldn’t their habitat also be protected?! Logging will still be allowed in many Spirit Bears’ habitats and the diesel still leaking from the sunken B.C. Ferry Queen of the North, continues to infect the shores of an island that scientists say has the highest concentration of these special bears.
How can Spirit Bears be truly “protected” with trophy/sport hunting still allowed and the continued destruction of their habitat, still allowed?!
Guests that have travelled with us, and those that will travel with us in the future, discover how the wild places and wild animals afford us sanctuary, healing and replenishment. This why, more than ever, we must all do our part to ensure our global treasures live on.
Reflections Newsletter Archive
"What a country chooses to save is what a country chooses to say about itself." ~ Molly Beattie
Our 2007 season was filled with amazing wildlife viewing, awe inspiring First Nations culture, SUPER natural gifts from mother nature, and the best crew and guests anyone could ask for!
So much beauty, so many gifts, so many lessons learned—it would be difficult to adequately sum it all up. Moments sometimes spoke volumes. Over the next few months, we will post stories of ‘moments’—stories that we hope you will enjoy or that might cause reflection or even stir you to action.
ALL THE POSSIBILITIES!
As we travelled up the inside passage along the shores of Princess Royal Island under warm, sunny skies, the world seemed full of possibilities. After all, I had one of my dearest long time friends on board who would normally want to spend her holidays at horse shows! I’m excited to share with her, one of my favourite parts of the world.
This area, now well known as the Great Bear Rainforest, with its ethereal beauty and complex ecosystems, is home to one of British Columbia’s best known inhabitants, the Spirit Bear.
The tide is out—way out—revealing the sea’s bounty—a seemingly endless banquet of mussels, barnacles and other inviting delicacies. No, we weren’t going ashore for a picnic, we were going a little closer to witness a lesson in progress. Along a large cedar log on the beach, a huge, shiny Black Bear mum led her two tiny white cubs—on their way to the waiting banquet! At this moment, anything seemed possible! The mum came closer and closer to us—right to the waters edge—right to where the giant black boulders were blanketed in mussels. Every move she made seemed to be mimicked by her two tiny cubs. They first watched her as she loosened the shellfish from the rocks with her powerful claws—then the cubs tried. Standing on his back feet, the smallest one tried his hand at removing the mussels. Tears filled my eyes—tears of joy at the gift we were being given, tears of frustration and sadness at knowing that the diesel from the downed B.C. ferry had been bathing these very shell fish with its poison! What did the future hold for these new little Spirit Bears if they were dining on poisoned food? With the Canadian government wanting to lift the moratorium on oil tankers on our coast, the diesel from the sunken ferry, seemed like the least of their problems! These little bears would be able to see the oil tankers go by en route to Kitimat—right from this very beach! If B.C. Ferries couldn’t keep the Queen of the North from sinking and they couldn’t seem to find the money to pump out the seeping poisons from her, how long would it be before one of the tankers had an accident that would destroy the little bears’ food sources?
As we watched the two tiny white cubs follow in the footsteps of their black mother, I knew what I had to do—enjoy the gift, listen to what I was being told, and share with others, the magic and the power of this place and these animals. Maybe, I thought, just maybe, that’s one of the reasons they are called “Spirit” Bears—their spirit really does help us see all the possibilities.
The following weeks, the same big black mum bear allowed us to witness more lessons in the making. At the edge of the rainforest, not far from the beach where we’d first seen them, she was teaching her growing white cubs how to pick berries and climb for wild crab apples. One of the cubs, more adventurous than its sibling, seemed to be the one that climbed to the highest branches of the crab apple trees or the one that hung precariously from a log to reach the most succulent of the huckleberries. The other little bear loved to be a bit closer to mum—just in case she needed to suckle. Watching the cubs, side by side, sample hawthorn berries, still makes me giggle when I think of it. With paws being used like tiny hands, they would gently pull the berry- laden branch towards them. One loved the berries—but the other one spat them out and returned to mum for a drink of milk—then was off to pick her own favourite berries. Sitting, eating salal berries, with her little mouth stained purple, she warmed my heart. This little Spirit Bear was full of mums milk, berries—and-- full of promise and possibilities!
When designing our schedule of trips for 2007 we decided that each year we would like to offer a new “Voyage of Discovery”. With that in mind we first offered “Magnificent Inlets of the Grizzly—North”. This trip was such a success that we now have two departures this year to the same area! Mountains blanketed in thick, white snow, granite faces, laced with waterfalls that seem to fall from the sky, velvety green estuaries carpeted in wildflowers—all provided the perfect backdrop for the photos of Grizzly and Black bears. Only one of our 2008 departures has 2 spaces still available! 2008’s “Voyage of Discovery” is called “Islands at the Edge”. Deserted stretches of white sandy beaches, spectacular sunsets, remote anchorages, amazing scenery, and endless opportunities for wildlife viewing and inter tidal exploration. There are only 2 spaces still available on this new trip! Contact us for more details.
Anyone that books a 2008 trip, (with the deposit paid), before January 1, 2008, will enjoy 2007 prices. As of January 1, 2008, all 2008 trips will increase by approximately 6%.
Many guests have already booked their 2008 trip(s)!
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES WE ARE WORKING ON
Oil tankers on our coast? The Canadian government is considering lifting the moratorium on oil tanker traffic in British Columbia waters. With the Enbridge Gateway Project wanting to pipe crude oil from the Alberta tar sands, overland to Kitimat, oil tankers would then be used to take the crude oil from Kitimat, down Douglas Channel, and out to sea. These oil tankers, on this route, would pass prime Spirit Bear habitat—habitat and food sources already contaminated by the leaking, sunken B.C. Ferry, Queen of the North! The mussels that the tiny cubs, (in the photo above), are eating are contaminated with the leaking biohazards from the sunken ferry. If oil tankers are allowed to travel to Kitimat, they will travel right by the very beach that these little cubs are feeding on!! If the B.C. Ferry Corporation and the government of the province of British Columbia couldn’t keep the ferry, Queen of the North from sinking in these waters, how can they promise that oil tankers will not do the same?!
For more information on the oil sands project that will use oil tankers to transport crude oil from Kitimat, past prime Spirit Bear habitat, visit www.oilsandstruth.org or contact the Dogwood Initiative at dogwoodbc.ca or contact us at email@example.com
Whaling for “research”?
The Japanese say they kill for scientific purposes! For more information on B.C. whales, visit/support Cetacealab www.whaleresearch.ca To sign a world wide petition to STOP WHALING, visit whalesrevenge.com , a petition that will soon reach one million strong!! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
STOP Trophy Hunting on B.C. Coast!
Did you know that trophy/sport hunting is still allowed in most “conservancies” in B.C.? Our provincial government talks about “going green”. This government still allows and promotes trophy/sport hunting in many B.C. Parks!
Following are the fees that trophy/sport hunters are to pay to have licence to kill these animals:
Only $180 to kill a Black Bear on B.C.’s north coast, inside the Spirit Bear Conservancy—a bear that very well could carry the recessive gene to produce a white (spirit bear) cub!
Our Coastal Wolves are under siege! Only $50 and a hunter can blast them away—the hunter is not even required to report his kill!
If you’d like to let our Premier Gordon Campbell know your opinion on Trophy/Sport Hunting, you can email him at email@example.com
If you’d like to give your opinion to our Minister of the Environment (whose ministry hands out these licences to kill), you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
"Clean" Energy from Banks Island on our North Coast
Katabatic Power plans on building 234 wind turbines on the north west side of Banks Island, with access roads and a substation on the island PLUS 146 to 160 km. Of transmission lines through some of B.C.’s most beautiful inlets—at least two of which are “Conservancies” in B.C. Parks! Banks Island is home to coastal wolves—animals that wouldn’t take well to wind turbines and access roads. (Access roads typically mean more hunters!) The transmission lines will cross prime Grizzly, Black Bear, and Wolf habitat, and, the summer nesting sites of many species of seabirds, ducks, trumpeter swans, eagles, songbirds, etc.
Katabatic Power says they are doing plenty of environmental studies and consulting with First Nations peoples whose traditional lands they will be impacting. However, as of today, there are no signs of this information on their website and I have not as yet had an answer to my questions, from them.
You can visit their website (katabaticpower.com/banks.html) or email with your questions/concerns to (email@example.com).
EXCITING NEW BOOK RELEASED!
Ian and Karen McAllister, co-authors of one of B.C.’s best known and most well read book, “The Great Bear Rainforest”, have delighted international readers for years now with their amazing photographs and stories of their travels there during years of studying the area.
Ian’s new book, “THE LAST WILD WOLVES, Ghosts of the Great Bear Rainforest”, with contributions by Chris Darimont and introduction by Paul C. Paquet, is guaranteed to stir its readers to action! During a period of seventeen years, Ian has photographed and studied these amazing wolves—and this book with its riveting photos, documents their unique behaviours and allows us a glimpse into some of the last wild places on earth. We thank Ian and Karen McAllister for this amazing undertaking, their passion for the Great Bear, and for their unending dedication to its preservation!
In January, look for an article from Wayne McCrory of Valhalla Wilderness Society and his thoughts on the extraordinary work his sister Colleen McCrory accomplished prior to her death on July 1, 2007.
Anyone wishing to donate in her memory, can do so by going to www.vws.org Anyone wanting more information on the important work currently underway by Valhalla Wilderness, including saving the Spirit Bear and helping save the wildhorses of the Brittany Triangle, visit Valhalla's website at www.vws.org
Also coming soon…another story and more photos from our 2007 season.
Reflections Newsletter Archive
(Right: Photo credit to H.Brink)
"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." ~ Rachel Carson
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