Ocean currents swirling around the islets of the Broughton Archipelago created an upwelling of nutrients that attracted an abundance of seabirds and marine mammals on this crisp fall morning in British Columbia. Humpback whales, eagles, red phalaropes, common murres, gulls, harbor seals, and Steller sea lions worked the currents. Pacific white-sided dolphins arrived to play in our bow wake and urge National Geographic Sea Lion to go faster! Their sleek bodies leaping from the sea brought a joyful challenge to our photographers. Today we are traveling through the traditional territory of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations, and I can easily imagine the great canoes moving between villages along these rocky shores a hundred years ago.

As we pulled into the quaint and colorful town of Alert Bay, we noticed that the Canadian flags were lowered to half-mast today to honor Queen Elizabeth’s passing. One of the well-known local carvers, Bruce Alfred, welcomed us and gave us an orientation to the memorial poles in the old native cemetery on the waterfront. We explored the town’s waterfront, photographed the fishing boats and gardens, hiked through the forests, and visited the old cedars in Gator Gardens. Later, we anchored in a quiet cove and watched the full moon rise over the forest.

Photo caption: Visiting Broughton Archipelago and Alert Bay, British Columbia.