Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Scottish Dolphin Centre
  • Stop whaling
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Risso's dolphin entangled in fishing line and plastic bags - Andrew Sutton

The ocean is awash with plastic – can we ever clean it up?

You've seen pictures of plastic litter accumulating on beaches or marine wildlife swimming through floating...
Fin whale

Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland's Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little...
Mykines Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

Understanding whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands – why change is not easy

Most people in my home country of the Faroe Islands would like to see an...

Dolphin scientists look like you and me – citizen science in action

Our amazing volunteers have looked out for dolphins from the shores of Scotland more than...
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

The Faroes dolphin slaughter that sparked an outcry now brings hope

Since the slaughter of at least 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður in my home...
Fin whale

From managing commercial slaughter to saving the whale – the International Whaling Commission at 75

Governments come together under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to make decisions...

24 hours at Cracroft Point

CP, or Cracroft Point, is OrcaLab’s remote outpost and land-based video station perfectly located at the point where Blackney Pass feeds into Johnstone Strait in British Columbia, Canada. This rocky headland witnesses the annual migration of millions of salmon as they return to their spawning rivers along the west coast. There are five species of salmon in these Pacific waters – pink, chum, coho, sockeye and the largest of them all, and the resident orca’s favourite- the mighty chinook. Each summer, as the salmon funnel in from the Pacific Ocean and into the Strait, they provide a conveyor belt of food for the orcas. 

I arrived at CP lunchtime and barely had time to unpack my provisions before my colleague, Megan, spotted some incoming orcas. I grabbed my binoculars and we quickly identified these as A5 pod whales as I saw WDC Adoption orca, Fife amongst them, travelling with his cousin, Surge.

Northern Resident

We spent the next hour or so filming the family as they foraged in the waters right off our filming platform. From time to time some of the humpbacks that were in the area surfaced right alongside.

The humpbacks have been an incredible success story here as when I first came in 1990 you would never see one in the area since they were all whaled out by 1969. But the last 12 years or so have seen their numbers increase significantly as they once again explore their ancestral waters. Today, they are practically our constant companions as they forage on herring and other schooling fish before heading out on their migration. The throat opening of a humpback is just the diameter of a football so ironically the salmon in these waters are just too large for these leviathans.

Northern Resident Orca

The previous evening at OrcaLab we were treated to a stunning view of the full moon but tonight Zeus had other plans as the clouds rolled in with the rain as we bunkered down with some of Megan’s delicious pasta for dinner.  

full moon at OrcaLab

Throughout the night we were treated to the gamut of acoustics from the resident platform mouse, Mr Jingles, trying to get through the mesh door into the cabin, to the colossal thrash of a humpback whale either breaching, cartwheeling or lobtailing (it was inky dark!) which brought my dream to an abrupt halt and nearly threw me from my bunk!

By dawn, the wind had subsided and the rain had stopped when my second ‘rude awakening’ came from Megan who yelled ‘we have whales out front’. As we stumbled bleary-eyed on to the platform we saw the A30s swim by including WDC’s very own Bend and her calf.

Northern Resident orca

The radio crackles into life with reports of more whales coming up from the east. As Megan and I scan the Strait, strong coffee in hand, we wonder what the next 24 hours have in store for us in this truly magical corner of the planet.

Northern Resident orca