Comox is a handsome small community with a large marina complex halfway “up” Vancouver Island on the inside passage. Fresh seafood can be purchased right from the fishing boats in the harbor.

Fresh salmon, prawns and crab for sale at Comox

Nearby Jupiter’s tie-up lives a lively colony of Harbour Seals often hauled out in lazy banana shapes on an abandoned dock float. The furry-faced creatures kept us, and other visitors, endlessly amused with natural behaviors surpassing anything found at aquarium or zoo.

A solar spa created by warmed steel pontoons attracts a noisy and often competitive congregation. Young seals are suckled in the protection of the pools and cavorting juveniles entertain or annoy their elders. Mature males bully their way to the prime locations.

The young are protected inside pools formed by pontoons warmed by the sun.

Departing the Comox seal show, Jupiter made way across the shallow bar into the Georgia Strait bound for isolated Mitlenatch Island some 20 miles north.

Mitlenatch in the Kwak’wala language of the Kwakwaka’wakw simply means “small island that looks close, but seems to move away no matter how fast you paddle”.

Here we found a large herd of Steller Sea Lions feeding at sea and hauled out on smooth rocks along the shore.

Mitlenatch, harder to reach than it first appears

These immense animals appear ungainly on land but are fast swimmers and furious fishermen. The noise and stench from colonies can be used for navigation. Rounding Mitlenatch rewarded us with intimate sightings of sea lions, seals and various species of birds who reside within the protection of this rocky BC Park.

Steller Sea Lion pair on Mitlenatch Island

Phocids & Otariids: Egos and Ids

Pinnipeds are fin-footed kin,
Girdled in blubber they are never thought slim.

Sea Lions are Otariids, even in pairs,
And seals are Phocids, but really, who cares?

While aqua-dynamic in oceans and seas,
Seals come ashore with flopping unease.

Sea Lions are bigger by far,
The size of a small family car.

They stand proud on their rotating fins,
And can walk on these four flipper pins.

Seals have no ears it is said,
Just a hole in the side of their head.

Sea Lions have flaps you can view,
And thus you can tell who is who!

Seals are less social than Sea Lion cousins,
Yet easy to see that both gather in dozens.

Dr. Spruce

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