Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Here there be Whales !

Brier Island is a wonderful destination in itself.  A quiet little island with few people and lots of birds and Seals and wild places to wander near the sea.  But most folk visit Brier Island for one reason.


Situated at the bottom of "Digby Neck" (see previous post for map or consult Ms. Google), Brier Island is as close as you can get to "Whale central" in the Maritimes.

After driving off the ferry from Long Island, we arrived in Westport (Population 210), the only village on Brier Island. 

This was my first experience staying in a hostel, and at $20 a night, my expectations were not high.  I certainly did not expect to find a living room with a picture window looking out over the harbour, a marvellously outfitted kitchen and comfy beds.  In truth, I was also a bit surprised that Sandy and I were sharing a room with a charming young Professor from Barcelona, Spain !

The  hostel living room.
Random signs dotted the waterfront in Westport.

Each morning I got up early, and Wendy and I explored the town.

 And of course we also went for evening walks too.

That grey building on the left is the hostel.

Oh right.  Whale watching.  Yup.  We went.  We saw Whales.

It was over three hours of standing on a boat that rocked lustily on the waves, scanning the horizon as it moved UP and DOWN, and UP and DOWN.  

Because it was choppy, it was sometimes hard to tell a distant Whale fin from a wave.  But when that "wave" shot a spout of foamy, water into the air, a cry of "WHALE" would go up, fingers would point, and someone would shout the time.  Not the time on the clock, but rather to indicate to the captain where the Whale was in relation to us.  "Six o'clock" would mean the Whale was behind the boat, "Nine o'clock" meant it was on our left, and so on.  And so the captain would swing the boat in a wide circle, throttle back the engine and we'd stare and shout in amazement as Whales cruised past, toward,  AND under us.

Of course we weren't the only boat loaded with folk keen to see Whales.  I was impressed that after we'd been watching a couple of Whales close up, our captain told us we had to move along as other boats were approaching, and there is an unwritten rule that no more than two boats can be near a Whale at a time.

If you ever head to Brier Island to see the Whales, make sure you go with Brier Island Whale Watch as they are the only Whale-watching company on the Island that keeps meticulous records of sightings which they share with researchers.  Also, one of the guides on our boat was a co-op  research student from a Nova Scotia University who was adding to her knowledge of Whales and happily shared what she knew with us.  

This short video I made gives you a bit of a feeling of what it was like.

Me and Sandy
Oh wait, I forgot to show you the Seals and the "Balancing Rock", and the tilted building at Sandy's Cove and the abandoned house.  I guess this adventure is, "to be continued" ...


  1. I have gone whale watching twice at Brier Island, and enjoyed each time, even though it was foggy on one, and we didn't see too much. I appreciate the fact that the guides share their knowledge, and that they follow the unwritten rule of not crowding the whale. I wish I had been able to see more of Westport. Love the little signs.

    1. Isn't it wonderful there Bonnie ? I want to go back and camp there and explore more of the island.

  2. What a wonderful sounding adventure!! Looking forward to the next chapter!

  3. Loads of fun Karma. The hard part is whittling down 300 images for a blog post ! lol

  4. Lovely landscapes and seascapes, Sybil. So many of your photos of Nova Scotia remind me of Cape Cod, including the whale watching. You and Sandy look like you thoroughly enjoyed your adventure!

    1. I think we both enjoy similar land and sea scapes Barbara. We are lucky people you and I.

  5. I've only gone whale watching once, and it was in the dead of winter, or at least what passes for winter around here. As much as I love being on the water and like to swim, I have a fear of the open ocean in winter and all that cold water. Despite this I enjoyed my trip, but the port did not look as quaint and scenic as Breir Island.

    1. Here I am almost four years later responding; sorry Les. Do come visit Fundy in summer and go whale watching. It's an amazing experience.


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