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Back in BC with swimming bald eagles

May 20, 2009 Written by

Location: Browning Pass, Port Hardy, British Columbia

Well, it’s the start of our British Columbia and Alaska season and we are very happy to be back in our home waters.  Scuba diving in Mexico with great white sharks, giant pacific manta rays, dolphins and lots of other sharks is awesome.   But it’s also nice to be home.  First dives of this trip were in the Stubbs Island area and we were rewarded with 40-50 foot visibility and walls loaded with immensely prolific amounts of invertebrate life – anemones, coral, sponges, nudibranchs and all the usual critters.  Moved on to Browning Pass  (Browning Wall, 7 Tree Island, Hussar Point, Snowfall and so on) where the visibility was more disappointing – ranging from 25 feet at best to less than 8 feet at times.  Such is liveaboard diving in B.C.- vis might be terrific in some places and not good at all in others – where we can simply lift the anchor and move on if we don’t like the visibility.

Most memorable event on this trip so far was watching a bald eagle doing the breast stroke across Browning Pass.  Judging from my own personal observations, it is clearly an “old wives tale” that bald eagles are not able to land on the water and then take off again. I’ve seen them do it many times and this morning was no exception. We were watching  a group of 4 bald eagles in the Pass and these guys were swooping down to scoop little fish out of the water.  Sometimes they would actually land, sit on the water for 5 seconds or so and then flap their wings and take-off again. One poor guy was in the water a little too long and wasn’t able to take off.  We became quite concerned about him as he was a good distance from shore and we didn’t want to get too close and cause him any more stress. To my great surprise, he started swimming across the water using a very elegant  and efficient breast stroke – stretching all the way forward with his outstretched wings and sweeping them back. Can’t help but wonder how in the heck bald eagles have the genetic coding to know how to do the breast stroke!! He made amazingly good time and was soon standing on the beach, wiggling his tail feathers and drying out his wings. I love it out here!!   Captain Mike

Surface Conditions: Late spring weather with a mix of overcast and sunny breaks, temperatures from mid 50’s to mid 60’s. Calm winds and flat calm seas.

Underwater Conditions: Water temperature 46 degrees. Visibility variable from 8 feet to 50  feet.

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