Tag Archives: johnstone strait

Salmon Coast Experience

My Salmon Coast Experience – The making of “An Orca Whale Documentary”

I have always had a fascination with whales and the ocean. I feel drawn and connected to the beauty and grace of the killer whales. I have always been drawn to them ever since I was a young. I have always dreamed of seeing them in the wild.

As a film student, I had the opportunity to intern with Canadian filmmaker, Rob Stewart, director of Sharkwater. I learned a lot working with his production team in Toronto on his new film, Revolution. I learned how a film can have a big impact on people’s views of the world and also how it can be a catalyst to bring about change.

Greatly moved by Alexandra Morton’s book, “Listening to Whales”, I was inspired to make a difference and draw attention to the endangered killer whales off northern Vancouver Island. And so, I set out to shoot my first feature length documentary “An Orca Whale Documentary” during the summer of 2012.

Working In cooperation with OrcaLab, the whales were filmed during the summer months on the Johnstone Strait. I filmed the whales while they were resting in the morning fog and I also filmed them being chased down and surrounded by boats on a daily basis. Sometimes it was hard to watch the extreme amount of human impact on the whales. My intention for this film has evolved to show how much we as humans have an affect on the health and wellbeing of the whales and of the eco system.

After the summer season, I got in touch with the Salmon Coast Field Station in Echo Bay. I was invited to volunteer and film at the station for a few days. It was uplifting to see how Salmon Coast operates and to see how passionate they are to protect the wild salmon and eco system in the Broughton Archipelago. I interviewed Scott Rogers about the research that has been on-going at the station, and I also interviewed the iconic Billy Proctor who runs the museum in Echo Bay. Billy has such a strong passion for the region and it was such a treat to spend time with him and listen to his stories. He took me to where his childhood home was located near Flower Island and told me about his life growing up in the area.

The people who I have met in the Broughton Archipelago have a deep respect for the marine life and the natural world. Coady and Zephyr work and live off the land as much as possible. They were very welcoming and made me feel at home during my time at the station. I enjoyed spending some time with Salix as well…she has the ability to light up the room with her smile.

After spending time at the station, I was so delighted to meet my long time role model Alexandra Morton and do an interview with her at her home on Sointula Island. She spoke to me about her passion for the work that she does and why it is so important. Most of Alexandra’s research has pointed to “salmon farms” causing a disturbance with toxic waste, and the use of antibiotics causing harm to the ocean and the eco system. She has found a connection to sea lice being found in wild salmon in high numbers very close to the salmon farms. For these reasons she is taking a stance against salmon farm production in Canada. She wants to protect the ocean and the ecosystem that surrounds her. I strongly believe in Alex and her work.

I am grateful for the opportunity of visiting Salmon Coast and for all those whom have inspired, guided, and supported my journey in creating “An Orca Whale Documentary”. I will remember my time there fondly. I look forward to weaving together the footage gathered during my time at there and giving a voice to the stories shared. The film is set to be released in 2013.

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Northern Resident Killer Whales, Vancouver Island. – Photo by Natalie Lucier


Natalie Lucier – Filmmaker – Photo credit Leah Harnanansingh


Salmon Coast Field Station, Echo Bay, British Columbia, Canada

Close Encounter of the Whale Kind

Lara from Germany was my assistant this week. She is studying biology in school and also loves the whales.

Lara taking photos
Lara taking photos

We had an amazing experience on Aug 24th when we had the i15′s – Northern Resident Orcas come very close. On Aug 24th they passed CP heading West… one whale turned around and came right up to the deck – it was high tide. He looked at me and stayed in the same spot for a little while looking up. This whale came in so close to where I was… I had to say hi to him… “Hi whalie”, you are so beautiful. The i15′s on Aug 24th on the Johnstone Strait.

underwater looking up at me
underwater looking up at me
I see you
I see you
Eye to Eye
Eye to Eye
Heading back West to join his pod
Heading back West to join his pod
A screen shot from Lara's short video clip, i15's continue heading West
A screen shot from Lara’s short video clip, i15′s continue heading West

See a video that I shot of the whale saying hello…

[vimeo 48212354 w=500 h=281]

I have been enjoying editing photos and video clips at my little editing station in the hut- Lara took this photo of me…

my editing station in the hut
my editing station in the hut

Last night we had some lovely clouds… Aug 25th…

Soft clouds on Aug 25th
Soft clouds on Aug 25th

Tail Slaps & Breaches! This is Heaven on Earth

Yesterday (July 29 2012 ) was a day to remember! I sighted my first spyhopping Orca whale! An adult spy-hopped and all I could see was white! It was crazy! I was lucky enough to get some footage of a baby spyhopping next to mum. (which I will try and post a link to at some point…) I also got some footage of mum and baby doing tail slaps! See a short video clip:

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/46594289 w=398&h=294]

After a busy day of watching the orcas foraging… I was lucky enough to see a humpback breaching on the Johnstone Strait! It breached about 4x in a row and I was lucky enough to capture a clip on video!

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/46601861 w=403&h=297]

The evening was amazing with a pink sunset and the A11′s foraging by the hut. Momoko and I heard the A11′s calling above the water! Their calls echoed through Blackney pass and the Johnstone Strait very loud and clear… there were no boats in the area so absolutely no boat noise. It was a very special moment.

A photo of the evening sky just before the pink sunset (which I captured on video…)

Heaven on Earth ~ July 29, 2012 - Johnstone Strait
Heaven on Earth ~ July 29, 2012 – Johnstone Strait