Orca gives Whale Watchers Unusual Thrill in Bay of Fundy

 The following article was originally published in The Chronicle Herald, the Nova Scotia Provincial newspaper on Thursday, September 20th. Written by Staff Reporter, Clare Mellor, please click here to link to the original article. Special thanks to Penny, of Mariner Cruises Whale and Seabird Tours, located in Briar Island, Nova Scotia, for the fantastic photo!

Photo credit: Penny, of Mariner Cruises Whale and Seabird Tours, Briar Island, Nova Scotia

 
“Orca Gives Watchers Thrills
 
It was like hitting the whale-watching jackpot.

An orca, or killer whale, not commonly seen in Nova Scotia waters, put on an hour-long show Tuesday for a whale-watching tour boat off Brier Island.

“It was a pretty amazing sight to see,” Roy Small, who captains the Island Link for Welcome Aboard Whale Watching Tours on Brier Island, said Wednesday.

“Everybody was just ecstatic, including (the crew). It was a very, very, good day.”

The last reported orca sighting in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia was about two years ago, Small said.

“This is the very first time I’ve seen one,” he said.

Small, his crew and roughly 10 passengers had been on the water for three hours Tuesday and had already been treated to sightings of several humpbacks, a fin whale that was surface-feeding, a minke whale, dolphins and porpoises.

The boat was about 12 kilometres northwest of Brier Island watching a group of about six humpbacks when a passenger spotted an unusual fin nearby.

Crew member Tania Campbell was up on the bow when she heard Small shout.

“All I heard was, ‘Holy smokes. I think it’s an orca!’” Campbell said Wednesday.

Small said an orca’s dorsal fin is very distinctive.

“It is about three feet high,” he said. “There is no mistaking it.”

He said the male orca measured 7.5 to nine metres and was travelling alone.

Small, who has also been a lobster fisherman for 22 years, said he has not done much reading on orcas and wasn’t sure what to expect.

“He was really friendly. I was really surprised,”

he said.

“He came right to us. He made a close approach to us a couple of times. We watched him from a distance and he’d come over and check us out, go around the boat and underneath. He’d roll up on his side and look at us.”

Hal Whitehead, a biology professor at Dalhousie University who specializes in the study of whales, said orcas are not often spotted in Nova Scotia waters but are more frequently seen off Newfoundland and Labrador.

“They are pretty rare around the Maritimes in general, but they are seen from time to time,” he said.

“They come by from time to time. We don’t know quite why or what they are up to.”

Campbell said she felt a little shaky when the orca made such a close approach.

“It was a slightly different feeling, just that really tall dorsal fin,” she said. “It is just a different sort of presence — I think, I guess, maybe because it is a toothed whale.”

The orca breached, or leaped out of, the water three times, and Campbell was happy that she managed to snap a photo of the unusual sight.

Small radioed another whale-watching boat nearby so its passengers could also have a chance to see the killer whale.

“I think the other boat got a pretty good show too,” Campbell said.

Small said it seemed a shame to finally have to call it a day.

“Nobody wanted to go in. We all wanted to stay and keep watching it.

“The weather was starting to deteriorate so we had to go.””

(cmellor@herald.ca)

The Belgravia Bed & Breakfast Website

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Surf’s Up in Nova Scotia!

Last  March, when our son Evan went on a school exchange to Brazil, one of his favourite, most memorable activities, was the surfing lessons he took. Proclaimed “a natural”, he was anxious to continue surfing in Nova Scotia. We warned him that surfing in Nova Scotia would probably be much different than surfing in Brazil, but he was keen to try.

His 14th birthday coincided with back-to-school for D’Arcy and me, so we promised him that we would treat both him & his brother, Alex, to surfing lessons before the end of the season. Last weekend, with Hurricane Leslie approaching up the Atlantic Seaboard, the waves had been churned up and conditions would have been too wild for our beginners.

This weekend, Saturday dawned bright and beautiful and calm. I made a call to Nico at the East Coast Surf School to see if there might be a possibility of lessons for the boys at the last minute. We had a full-house on Friday, so arranged the lessons for 2 p.m. which would give us enough time to get the rooms changed over. We called my parents and they were happy to come over to welcome guests until we returned. D’Arcy, who is very comfortable in the water, growing up sailing and being a certified scuba diver, was slightly disappointed I hadn’t booked him into lessons as well!

The weather was beautiful and the tide was coming in.As it turns out, the water on the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia is warmer now than it is in the summer – we’re spoiled by spending most of our summer water time in the warm waters of the Northumberland Straight on Nova Scotia’s northern coast. The boys were provided with wet suits and Sam took them out for their lessons while we played with the girls on the beach. Sam also declared that the boys were both “naturals” but Evan was frustrated that it was not as easy to surf in Nova Scotia than it was in Brazil – the waves were more powerful…

They had a great afternoon, trying to master the art of “hanging ten”. The best part was that when their lesson was over, they had the use of the boards & wetsuits for the rest of the afternoon. D’Arcy even tried to surf a couple of times while Evan was taking a breather…  I can see that we’ll definitely be trying this again next year!

It’s only a 1 hour and 22 minute drive from Truro to Lawrencetown Beach where there is year-round surfing – an easy day trip from the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast.

Heading into the water at Lawrencetown Beach

The girls kept themselves occupied while their brothers were at their lessons by playing in the surf.

Almost…

So much fun to watch – even more fun to do (from what I’ve been told)!

Regrouping…

Alex is trying to get up…

Wipe out!

Sam shows Evan and Alex how it’s done…

The girls have fun burying Dad in the sand.

‘Return to the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast website

Flooding in Truro

Many people who follow the news have heard that yesterday in Truro, we had the “perfect storm” which created massive flooding in our town. Hurricane Leslie, which hit Newfoundland today, was feeding a low pressure system which stalled over our area. The heavy rain (145 mm+) combined with high tide in an already swollen Salmon River, caused the dykes to be breached and the water to flow into town.

Luckily, at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast, our guests were warm, cozy & dry and our home was not affected – which seemed amazing because streets very close to us, and the golf course in our neighbourhood were closed. We’ve heard stories about one friend who was rescued from her home by a canoe, other friends who were rescued from their homes in the bucket of a front end loader, and another friend’s son, who was wakeboarding in the flood water in their backyard!

I am happy to report that although this amount of water was a huge inconvenience to many, I have not heard of any injuries or worse – fatalities as a result.

Thank you to past guests, friends & family from away who have contacted us to inquire about our safety – I’m happy to report we’re all just fine!

The Joe Howe Falls in Victoria Park, Truro. Photo Credit: Truro Parks & Recreation

Fletcher’s Restaurant, located just down the street from us. Photo credit: Robb Scott

A lake at the Truro Golf Club – located on the other end of our block. Photo credit: Truro Golf Club

The first time I’ve ever seen so much flooding at the Truro Golf Club – located at the opposite end of our block. Photo credit: Truro Golf Club

Lorne Street looking South. Stanfield’s Factory on the left, the Stadium and High School on the right. Needless to say, all were evacuated! Photo credit: Tim Roland

The parking lot of the mall on Robie Street last night; this is the main artery in and out of Truro. Photo credit: Bobby Harroun

A friend’s son, wakeboarding in their backyard. Notice the water is as deep as the trampoline is high. Photo credit: Susan MacQuarrie