Boating
Rafting
Wildlife viewing
Wildlife viewing -- Howe Sound --
2004-August-08

Today we were planning to hike Tenquille Lake but a major accident on the road changed our plans.  Instead we decided to do some boating in Horseshoe Bay.  This village is the terminus for BC Ferries to Departure Bay in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, to Bowen Island and Langdale on the Sunshine Coast.

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After renting the boat we sailed to Howe Sound.  We were surrounded by towering peaks raising straight out of the sea.

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Howe Sound incorporates many islands, and clusters of islands, the largest of which are Bowen Island and Gambier Island.

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You can do kayaking, but be aware of the outflow winds that build on summer days.  Howe Sound is a channel for winds drawn out to the ocean from cooler inland regions. 

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The coastal waters boast an abundance of marine life, including sea lions, porpoises and orcas (killer whales), which provide great wildlife viewing.  This time we only saw the local colony of sea lions.

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Sea Lions are pinnipeds -- literally, feather-footed -- meaning they have finlike members for propulsion.  Their pelvic bone structure allows independent use of their flippers, and therefore, they can walk on their four weblike flippers which contain the same structure as the legs of land animals.

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Sea Lions are carnivorous.  Their skulls are similar to those of bears and their jaws contain sharp teeth much like those found in dogs, cats, and other flesh eaters. 

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The average life span of these animals is believed to be about 20 years.

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Young sea lions called pups seems to be immune to most diseases as long as they are breast fed.  As they mature, pups become susceptible to internal parasites such as round worms and tape worms which are a deterrent to both growth and longevity.

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What are you looking at?

For some reason, experts have found that the stomachs of many adult sea lions contain stones.  These stones vary in number and size from pebbles to three inches in diameter.  No one knows whether the stones serve some useful function to the sea lion or whether they might have been swallowed accidentally, possibly in play.

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Round trip: 44 km (27.5 miles)

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