This morning Mark ‘Mallard’ Malleson picked me up at 6 am so we could get an early start to make our way up to the Pacific Biological Station at Nanaimo for 8. We were on our way to meet the CCGS Tully and head out on a marine mammal survey off the central coast of British Columbia. After we stopped for a much needed latte we were away from the early morning traffic of downtown Victoria and onto the highway heading north up Vancouver Island. An hour and a half later we were pulling into the driveway of the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo where we met the rest of the survey crew and carpooled the rest of the way to Port Hardy at the north end of Vancouver Island.
From the Pacific Biological Station we drove for two and half hours until we reached Campbell River. You had to be a marine mammal enthusiast to enjoy that car ride; Mark and John Ford (head of the cetacean research program at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Pacific Biological Station) spent most of the time discussing past encounters and John quizzed us on our killer whale knowledge. I think we did quite well and mostly passed the killer whale knowledge test…and we even learned that, despite all the theories on why killer whale calves are orange, according to John ‘they just are’.
We arrived in Port Hardy around 1 pm after another hour and half drive from Campbell River. Of course, as is often the case, we had to ‘hurry up and wait’. After unloading the cars and parking them we waited for our Coast Guard crew to take us across to the ship. A couple hours later we were in the FRC speeding across the water towards the ship, scrambling up the ladder alongside the ship and getting settled into our cabins. Before dinner we had a quick meeting with John, our chief scientist, and the captain and chief officer of the CCGS Tully, and a tour of the ship.
Just as we were sitting down to dinner the ship started pulling away from Port Hardy…and we were heading into the waters of the central BC coast to look for the marine mammals inhabiting these waters!