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Beluga whale off Newfoundland

The citizens of St. Anthony on the north coast of Newfoundland woke up to a marine spectacle never before seen along that piece of coast this morning (April 25, 2009).  What local observers estimate to be in excess of one thousand beluga whales are turning the near shore ocean white with their activities.

Welcome to this 2008 photo essay by our staff and guests. Maybe you are interested in a vacation to Newfoundland and Labrador; maybe you are considering a vacation with Wildland Tours; or maybe you want to enjoy some beautiful nature images and stories from the past year. Whatever brings you to our site we invite you to click on the slide show, check out the images, and further explore our website.

Red Fox on the Viking Trail

Banfield’s The Mammals of Canada (1977) and Snow’s Land Mammals of Newfoundland and Labrador (1996) provide lists of mammals found in northern Labrador but these lists were supported by a very limited amount of field observation. Harrington (1994) provided a comprehensive synopsis of the available literature combined with interviews to summarize the fauna and biophysical characteristics of the region.

The orcas in the western Atlantic have received little study. We know they were common enough to serve as a prominent subject for the art and rituals of the people who lived in Newfoundland and Labrador 3,000 years ago. The most famous artifacts taken from Port aux Choix National Historic Site on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland are orca effigies carved in bone. These people lived off the whales, seals, salmon, and cod of the rich north Atlantic as did the orcas they undoubtedly shared the coastline with.

Male orca off the Labrador coast

During 2007 we enjoyed a wonderful summer of whale watching and study. All of our guests on all of our week-long excursions viewed members of the world’s largest humpback whale gathering together with other marine mammal species.

We hang out with puffins while we watch the whales

During 2006 we enjoyed a wonderful summer full of whales, wildlife and cultural adventures. A major part of all our excursions is the whale research; and 2006 was a summer of discovery and insight. We established to our own satisfaction that the Avalon Peninsula of eastern Newfoundland has humpbacks that visit annually and hang out for the season.

This orca group from 2008 was still together during our 2009 expedition

The year 2005 started with two giant squid washing up on the northeast coast. Next, we heard reports of springtime pilot whales at the edge of arctic ice… a surprising occurrence considering these whales are more commonly found off the Azores or pursuing summertime squid and herring in the deep bays of Newfoundland.

Acrobatic humpback whales - two members of the planet's largest gathering

The spring of 2003 started with reports of two curious narwhals swimming among the icebergs near St. John’s. Soon these were joined by huge numbers of humpbacks that appeared to arrive in early June. From June to August, our tour participants reported excellent numbers of fin whales, minkes, and humpbacks (we have the world’s largest gathering of these playful acrobats). It was also a wonderful year for spotting whale calves. It is unusual to see young fin or minke whales but this year there were obvious calves in the company of adults.

Members of the world's largest humpback gathering provide wonderful photos

The summer of 2002 provided some outstanding whale watching for our crew of Newfoundland and Labrador whale enthusiasts. Small numbers of humpbacks have always over wintered off the Newfoundland coast and we enjoyed regular sightings throughout the spring until early June when their numbers were swelled by thousands of whales including lots of small calves arriving from the Caribbean.

Watching the watchers - the humpback whale experience

It was an amazing year for whales. Our first 2001 visit to Labrador had our guests witness the spectacle of an orca in hot pursuit of a minke whale. While we didn’t get to photograph that fast-moving episode, our luck was excellent for the rest of the year. Our Whale Study Week and Wildlife Adventure guests contributed more useful whale tail photos to the world-wide humpback census than ever before. We enjoyed wonderful weather, great photographic conditions, and some amazing beach-side shows featuring the most frequent and best photographed lunge feeding displays in over a ...