Waking Gwaii Haanas

Island Soitude anchored in Gwaii HaanasPhoto: Chris Wheeler
As we enter into Fall and all Bluewater Adventures' vessels are experiencing some of the best wildlife watching in the world, we begin looking toward next year. How we craft our expedition schedule is largely dictated by the rhythms of nature. We make sure that we are present in each area of the British Columbia Coast and Southeast Alaska when it is the very best time to be there.

Haida Gwaii Black Bear Largest subspecies of black bear
- the Haida Gwaii Black Bear
  Totem Poles at SGang Gwaay The iconinc totem poles of SGang Gwaay
- a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  Ancient Murrelets Ancient murrelets call out to their chicks from the water's edge after dark.

One great example is Haida Gwaii – it is glorious come spring. Ancient cedar groves yawning to the rising sun after a long winter of quiet stillness in between passing storms. Vitality returns, the forest floor bursts with life and the mosses and lichens take on an even more vibrant shade of green. It is easy to understand how the Gwaii Haanas ("Islands of Beauty”) earned its name.

Ancient Murrelt chick Ancient murrelet chicks, only handled by researchers, at Laskeek Bay on Limestone Island   We spend most of the trip exploring Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve. Thousands of sea birds migrate to the southern regions of the park to nest and raise their young each spring. One such bird is the endangered Ancient Murrelet, who returns from the sea only to lay her eggs. In late May, tiny grey fluff balls emerge from their forest dens, and travel down the beach to greet their calling parents at the water’s edge.

Spring tides off Haida Gwaii are rich in small fish and krill – welcome nourishment for hungry foragers. Some years have seen Risso’s dolphins and salmon sharks, while other years brought orca and mola mola. One massive creature we are sure to see are humpback whales returning from their birthing grounds further south.

A main highlight that has been bringing us back for over 40 years is the Haida hospitality and their story telling. Their culture is rich with history kept alive through music, art and oral history. We are grateful for the opportunities over the years to travel with Haida Elders like Captain Gold and Barb Wilson - Kii'iljuus, who lead our trips as resource guides. In sharing their family stories, personal adventures and knowledge of the village sites we encounter, our guests and Crew are brought closer to a time when the Haida thrived and villages teemed with activity.

Humpback zoomPhoto: Lindsay Janes
This unique place is incredible to explore throughout summer, but to witness the “waking” of Gwaii Haanas in spring; to celebrate the passing of winter and welcome new life to this remote and extraordinary archipelago is a powerful testament to the change of seasons.