Churchill Summer Treasures

These amazing images from Churchill were taken last week by Natural Habitat Adventures guide Eddy Savage while exploring the tundra and water around the area. This particular group literally found some treasure under a rainbow when they came across a caribou on the tundra. Other incredible beluga whale encounters were quite close up with the zodiacs. A beautiful red fox was quite inquisitive toward the group and posed for some of the best shots we have seen in a long time.

All in all the weather for the week cooperated for the incredible wildlife viewing and a full exploration of the Churchill region was successful. What a week for seeing all the treasures around every rock or inlet in Churchill and on the water!

caribou on the Churchill tundra

A rainbow marks the spot a caribou pauses on the tundra in Churchill. Eddy Savage photo.

 

Red fox in Churchill.

A red fox is surprised by a group of Natural Habitat travelers while searching the land for food. Eddy Savage photo.

 

Zodiac of travelers in Churchill

A group of hearty Nat Hab travelers heads out on the Churchill River to view the beluga whales. Eddy Savage photo.

 

Halfway point beach in Churchill

Secluded beach at Halfway Point with hearty sea purslane growing above. Eddy Savage photo.

 

Polar Rover in Churchill.

Natural Habitat travelers pose with their massive Great White Bear polar rover in Churchill. Eddy Savage photo.

 

Fort Prince of Wales cannons.

Cannons on the walls of Fort Prince of Wales across from Churchill. Eddy Savage photo.

 

Beluga watchers from Natural Habitat in Churchill

A group of Natural Habitat travelers ready to roll and see some beluga whales. Eddy Savage photo.

 

Sea North Tours – Beluga Whale Watch

Sea North Tours operates fantastic beluga whale watching trips on the Churchill River and Hudson Bay for groups like Natural Habitat Adventures. Their small group format allows travelers to get up close and personal with the belugas and other wildlife. The Sea North 2 carries 30 or so passengers and gives photographers a different vantage point from above the water while the Italian – made zodiacs can approach the whales within touching distance. Belugas enjoy following the slipstream from the zodiac’s outboard motor and sometimes three or four at a time troll behind in the bubbly wake. Every day on the water in Churchill is a different experience. Stay tuned for more unique wildlife photos from Sea North Tours!

Beluga in Churchill

Beluga underwater in the Churchill River. Sea North Tours photo.

 

Beluga whales in Churchill

Beluga whales at the bow in Churchill on the water. Sea North Tours photo.

 

Belugas on the Hudson Bay

The Sea North 2 watching a pod of beluga whales on the Hudson Bay. Sea North Tours photo.

 

 

Sea North Tours zodiac trip

Sea North Tours zodiac on the Churchill River by the Port of Churchill. Sea North Tours photo.

Beluga Whales Galore in Churchill

This aeriel video footage by Brian Fergusson gives us an idea of the incredible numbers of beluga whales in the waters surrounding the town of Churchill. The Hudson Bay and the Churchill River are filled with belugas and their young calves. The whales migrate from the north and spend the summer months in these estuaries all along the southern Hudson Bay coastline. Churchill has become the prime destination for travelers to view the pods of whales from zodiacs, kayaks and even snorkel with the mammals in the cool water. There’s no other accessible point to view thousands of belugas in such a condensed area and Churchill provides the infrastructure to comfortably partake in whale viewing excursions.

Beluga Feeding Fest

This photograph of a beluga whale pod feeding on capelin in the Churchill River illustrates how focused these mammals are when taking on a task. When they feed they will ignore any whale watching boats. However when they have had their fill the whales will become extremely focused on the zodiacs and bigger boats and become very curious. Biding time on the water while the beluga’s get their fill is certainly worth the wait!

Beluga whales

Beluga whales concentrating on getting capelin. Alex De Vries-Magnifico photo.

Churchill Video of the Week – No Limits for Curious Beluga Whales

Churchill beluga whale watching operators breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans ruled that the recently proposed minimum distance regulations for observing belugas on the Churchill River and Hudson Bay would not be enforced for the coming summer season. A proposed 50 meter restriction was to apply to all vessels observing whales on the water. DFO was citing research recently conducted with results showing minimal contact with whales would be beneficial to them in their feeding and calving behavior.

Researchers have obviously not spent much time observing the whales interacting with tour operators vessels in Churchill. Having spent over 10 seasons with groups of travelers out on the Churchill River and Hudson Bay, I have seen the behavior in just about every situation many times over. Beluga whales are curious beings and when they are not feeding or tending to their calves they love to approach and follow boats of all sizes. Zodiacs in particular are favorites for the whales with their low throttle. The whales seem happy settling into the slipstream created by the outboard motor and often approach close enough without prompting for one to reach in the water and touch the melon of a beluga.

So, without hesitation, I can firmly state that beluga whales are safe around whale watching boats in Churchill. They are adept enough to avoid a boat traveling at fairly high speed though this practice is quite unusual for anyone out to view the whales. The video below highlights the behavior that beluga whales exhibit with no fear. Good job DFO!

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