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Home » Tag Archives: wildlife

Tag Archives: wildlife

Wildlife: Vancouver Island Garter Snake


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I ran into this Vancouver Island garter snake yesterday while watering the garden and managed to get quite close to take this video. He was actually quite curious and came to check out my iPhone while I took the video before slithering away.

About Garter Snakes

Most garter snakes have a pattern of yellow stripes on a brown or green background and their average length is about 55 cm, with a maximum length of about 137 cm. 

Garter snakes are very thin snakes. Most have longitudinal stripes in many different colours. They come in a wide range of colours including: green, blue, yellow, gold, red, orange, brown, and black. In summer, they are most active in the morning and late afternoon; in cooler seasons or climates, they restrict their activity to the warm afternoons.

The saliva of a garter snake may be toxic to amphibians and other small animals. For humans, a bite is not dangerous, though it may cause slight itching, burning, and/or swelling. Most garter snakes also secrete a foul-smelling fluid from postanal glands when handled or harmed. [source: Wikipedia]

This isn’t the first time I’ve run into a garter snake in my garden though, I saw another one (or maybe even the same one?) in the same spot just a few weeks ago and snapped this photo:

Vancouver Island Garter Snake

Have you ever been up close and personal with a snake? Please share your story in the comments below.

 

Respect Nature!


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Steve the Crocodile

This is Steve. Steve lives in Tamarindo. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him several times, and it blows my mind how stupid some people can be when it comes to viewing and photographing wild animals. There were tourists getting dangerously close, and it makes me wonder:

“Are they aware that Steve is a killing machine???”

I mean seriously! He is a crocodile! In the wild! His brain is the size of a pea! All he knows how to do is kill, eat, sleep and sunbathe! This is not a zoo!!!

Warning CrocodileSo some facts about crocodiles:

  • They are DINOSAURS!
  • They have GIANT TEETH!
  • They are PURE MUSCLE!
  • They eat EVERYTHING!!! (Even you!)
  • The jaw of an 18 foot crocodile is more than 5,000 lbf (pound force). To put this in perspective, a great white shark is 670 lbf (source: Wikipedia)
  • they can run up to 17km/hr in short spurts (that’s faster than you!)
  • They WILL kill you!
  • Then the will EAT you!

I kept my distance and let my zoom lens do the rest. Even this made me nervous, especially after seeing how prehistoric he actually looks!

Nature does not discriminate. If you piss off a crocodile, it will not end well for you. You WILL lose! I could just see some crazy Crocodile Dundee situation happening with some of these other people. Wow. (Scroll to 1:52 in the video below video)

Keep your distance. Don’t be stupid. Respect nature!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH_MObR3G54

 

Releasing Baby Turtles in Montezuma


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Yesterday I was walking along the beach here, in Montezuma, Costa Rica, and I came upon a turtle hatchery just as they were hatching baby turtles! This was not a tour, or a tourist attraction, just a hatchery doing their conservation work.

There was a handful of people hanging around as they pulled the baby turtles from their sandy birth hole, and we were given the opportunity to hold them.

All I can say is that this was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen and done.

Baby turtles in Montezuma

Baby turtles in Montezuma

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(more images to follow)

Steve the Crocodile!


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Costa Rica has all kinds of wildlife. So far I’ve seen some beautiful birds, howler monkeys, an iguana, squirrels, geckos, all sorts of bugs, and the most amazing thing I’ve seen is a CROCODILE!!!

Before coming here, I had heard that there are crocodiles in the estuary in Tamarindo. There was even an attack in the bay off the beach here last week. But I never thought that it would be so easy to see a crocodile and there we were, taking a stroll on the beach, and as we walked through the small stream from the estuary into the ocean, we looked over and saw this guy:

Costa Rica Crocodile

He was probably about five feet long, nose to tail. I was about 20 feet away when I took this photo, and I was not about to get any closer. Crocodiles can run up to 17km/hour, and you can see here that he’s got some pretty big teeth. I was thinking it might be nice to keep my arms and legs, so I kept my distance. Next time I go for a stroll I’ll be sure to bring along my zoom lens!

A Taste of the Yukon


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In the short time I spent on the whirlwind Whitehorse Olympic media day last February, there was much to see and do!    (This post is well overdue….)

The trip started right from the moment we checked in at YVR. The woman handing out the boarding passes was dressed in traditional dress from the gold rush days. She wore this while hosting the flight to Whitehorse with contests and games.

Upon arrival, our media group was ushered to waiting school buses to take us to the local Whitehorse tourism centre, where we were introduced to the Province’s premier, Dennis Fentie, and members of Yukon Tourism. We were also treated to a dance from the Snowshoe Shufflers! Yep, dancers with snowshoes strapped to their feet! They also had past Olympians and Special Olympians present from the local area. I was honoured to personally meet Christine Larsen and she allowed me not only to hold her medal from the Atlanta Games, but to hang it around my neck as well!

Me and Christine Larsen and her silver medal

Christine Larsen's silver medal

Travel Yukon hosted a quick lunch with tastes of various restaurants in the city with traditional loca foods, such as moose, bison, and venison meats! It was all absolutely delicious!

We were then separated into our respective groups, depending on the activity we had previously chosen. The one my partner and I chose to be a part of was the Wildlife Reserve and Hot Springs tour. In between the two, we even stopped at t a local coffee roasting company, Bean North, where they roast organic beans from around the world that are purchased via fair trade.

Bean North Cafe

Bean North Cafe Bean North Cafe

At the wildlife reserve we saw many animals, from reindeer, to mountain goats, mountain sheep, elk, and  deer, to my favourite: a lynx!

Lynx at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve

Yukon Wildlife Preserve Yukon Wildlife Preserve

Yukon Wildlife Preserve

The Takhini Hot Springs were heavenly! We didn’t have a whole lot of time to enjoy them, but in the -20 degree Celsius weather it was a welcome warm up! The great thing about these hot springs was that you did not get that rotten egg sulfur smell that you often do with hot springs. There was no odor at all! Just two big pools of different temperatures to enjoy at your leisure. We were told that if you’re enjoying the hot springs at night, you may be lucky enough to catch a great light show from the arora borealis. Now THAT, I would love to experience!

Takhini Hot Springs

Connected to the hot springs is accommodation in the form of small cabins in the woods. The cabins looked very cozy and a good place to warm up as a nice winter retreat. With snow shoeing and cross-country skiing as daytime activities, and the hot springs to warm up in at the end of the day, you will never get bored at the Takhini Resort!

Takhini Hot Springs Lodge

Takhini Hot Springs Cabins Takhini Hot Springs Cabins

Takhini Hot Springs Cabins: Group shot

Next, we were taken to the Whitehorse Museum where we had an opportunity try our hands at gold panning, taste some locally brewed beer and attempt the Sour Toe Cocktail. You’ll find more details about interesting cocktail, continent a mummified human toe in this previous post. You can watch a video of me drinking the cocktail on YouTube.

SourToe Cocktail

SourToe Cocktail Drinking my Sourtoe Cocktail in Whitehorse, Yukon

From the museum the media group was taken to our last stop of the trip, the banquet dinner for the Yukon Quest dog sledding race. (http://www.yukonquest.com/) We were invited to partake in the celebration and announcements of the winners of the 2010 Yukon Quest. We had the honour of meeting the winner and speaking with him about the challenges he experienced over the 1,600 km of rough, sometimes hazardous terrain between Whitehorse, Yukon and Fairbanks, Alaska.

Yukon Quest Hans Gatt, winner of Yukon Quest, a 2 week Dog Sledding Race

We had one final surprise at the Whitehorse airport to round off our Yukon experience as we waited to check in and board our chartered flight back to YVR. Cancan dancers! Pretty sure this is not a regular occurrence for travelers to Whitehorse…

Cancan Dancers at the Whitehorse Airport

After a full day of travel and activities, we arrived back in Vancouver around midnight. It was a nice break, but I was happy to jump back into the Olympics craziness the following day.

I’d like to thank Travel Yukon and Canada’s Northern House for inviting me to come along on the Yukon media trip. It was truly amazing to see such a beautiful part of our country. I know I’ll be back again to see and experience all that Yukon has to offer! This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that will not be forgotten!

Daily Photo: Swans in the Mist


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This photo was taken in Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island just after Christmas 2009.

For more images from this day, please visit Flickr.

Swans in the Mist

Daily Photo: A Lynx in Yukon


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During the Olympics, I was invited on a media trip to Whitehorse, Yukon for a day. On the trip the group visited a nature reserve where I saw this beautiful lynx.

For more photos from the Yukon trip, please visit Flickr.

Lynx at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve

Whale Watching with Ocean Ecoventures


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For my dad’s birthday this year, rather than have a big party, my dad wanted to spend some quality time with the family. With this request in mind, my mom drove down the beautiful Cowichan Bay, on Vancouver Island and booked a whale watching tour with Ocean Ecoventures.

Whale Watching 1

We arrived at the storefront location, which doubles as an art gallery, and were provided with full-body, wind proof, Helly Hansen flotation suits for the day’s adventure. It was the first really hot day of the summer so the need for the suits didn’t seem to make sense, but once we were out and speeding across the water I was grateful to have it.

Whale Watching 40

Once suited up, we made our way down to the zodiac was moored and were given a quick but detailed safety lesson for the trip by Simon Pidcock, owner/operator of Ocean Ecoventures. Before taking off, he took this group shot!

Whale Watching 39

Whale Watching 36

We barely left the harbour when we caught our first glimpse of ocean wildlife. A harbour seal swam by about twenty feet from the boat!

Whale Watching 38

After about a 45 minute boat ride (with gorgeous B.C. views), we arrived to an area where the orcas tend to hang out and play around. Simon told us of all kinds of interesting facts, behaviours and statistics about the whales. He was very knowledgeable and much of the information was astounding!

Whale Watching 23

Whale Watching 28

Whale Watching 20

Whale Watching 17

Whale Watching 21

Whale Watching 14

Whales were not the only wildlife we saw on the trip. After watching and following the orcas for a couple of hours, we headed back to Cowichan Bay. He took us into a kelp bed, where he showed us that kelp is amazingly strong, and that it has an unbelievable growth rate, as well as many benefits to the ocean and its’ creatures. We even took a kelp leaf out of the water and ate it. Yep, it’s edible!

Whale Watching 12

Whale Watching 10

Other creatures we came across were several bald eagles as well as a bald eagle nest, a couple of ospreys and their nest of young, and of course a lot of seals hanging out on the logs.

Whale Watching 7

Whale Watching 5

Whale Watching 6

All in all we had an AMAZING experience! Unreal photographic opportunities! And we were lucky with phenomenal weather!

If you are planning a trip to Vancouver Island and are looking for a fun adventure in the Cowichan Valley, an Ocean Ecoventures Whale Watching tour with Simon Pidcock should definitely be on your itinerary!

A few tips for your trip:

  • Bring your best camera and best zoom/telephoto lens for the trip. I was afraid my gear would get wet, so I left it behind, but not a drop of water made it inside the boat! (*kicking myself!*)
  • Wear SUNSCREEN! Even on a cloudy day you are susceptible to sunburn.
  • Bring sunglasses and a hat to wear while floating around watching the whales.
  • Wear closed toed shoes.
  • Bring a bottle of water.
  • Ask lots of questions, Simon knows his stuff!

For more information about Ocean Ecoventures, visit their website, and follow them on Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to check out some of Simon’s beautiful whale photography on Flickr.

Ocean Ecoventures Whale Watching is located at:
1721 Cowichan Bay Road, Cowichan Bay
Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Local – 250 748 3800
Toll Free – 1 866 748 5333

Have you taken a whale watching tour? Please share your experience in the comments.


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