Today I’m packing my bags to fly south to Vancouver from the Yukon. I’ll spend a couple of days running some errands around the city and catching up with some friends and then I’m taking a series of three different ferries to end up on Hornby Island where I’ll be freediving with sea lions for a few days.
Hornby Island is a small island in the Straight of Georgia, between Vancouver Island and the British Columbian mainland. I have been making regular visits to Vancouver Island for a while now and it’s easily one of my favourite wildlife photography destinations. This year I’ll continue to work on a book project revolving around that wildlife, and for the winter that means getting in the (very cold) water with some inquisitive sea lions!
My packing list is as follows:
- Canon 5D Mark IV
- Canon 8-15mm Fisheye
- Aquatech Elite water housing with PD-85 dome
- Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L II
- Canon 16-35 f/4 L IS
- Canon 100-400 f/4-5.6 L IS II
Cameras and lenses will be carried on the plane in a backpack that I can’t talk about yet (stay tuned…). The underwater camera housing and associated lens ports and accessories are packed into a Pelican case, and then that is put into a rolling duffle bag called the Rolling Transporter from Osprey.
These expedition grade rolling duffles are incredibly lightweight for their size (I have a pair of the 90L bags and one of the 120L bags). Lightweight is good when you are packing heavily and trying to stay within airline limits! On this trip I’ll use one of the 90L duffles for my clothing and personal gear, and a second one for the camera gear. Handily the rolling duffles can be strapped together so you can pull both of them with a single hand, like a duffle train through the airport. Very useful if you’re travelling alone!
The longer 100-400mm – a big favourite of mine – will be used for photographing the sea lion rookeries from the boat, and the rest of the lenses will be used in the water housing with both a flat port and a dome port.
If you aren’t too familiar with the Aquatech housing setups then I suggest taking a look at a guide to setting up the 5D Mark IV for use in the Aquatech housing that I wrote last year.
This should be a fun trip! Stay tuned for some photos and follow my stories on Instagram.
Glad to see your interest in sea lion photography Dan. Maybe your images can be put to good use opposing the impending sea lion and seal slaughter that looms over our coastal waters.
Is that down in the US? I haven’t heard about this…
It’s right here in B.C.This CBC article gives a quick summary.https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-group-kill-seals-save-whales-1.4818745
Thanks for the link. Though I think you use of the word “impending” in your initial comment was misleading. This appears to be people just trowing around ideas, albeit dumb ones. There’s nothing in the CBC piece that suggests this is even remotely close to being something that will move ahead. I can’t see it happening. The article covers many obvious issues, but there are MANY more reasons this would be dumb to do. Yeah, resident orca populations are in trouble. Transient ones are not. Guess what they eat… sea lions and seals. So if they cull 50% of their food, you’ll put the transient orca’s at huge risk. This idea won’t get off the ground I don’t think.
“The society is meeting with the federal department’s Fisheries Management and Resource Planning group on Thursday to authorize commercial harvesting and to request that hunting rights be extended to all coastal First Nations.”
I haven’t been able to find anything online to determine the outcome of this meeting but I fear that the fact that such discussions are underway suggests that this idea is already “off the ground”. This isn’t their first meeting with the federal department of fisheries so they have more than just their foot in the door.
These people aren’t seeking just to send a few natives out to gather food for the elders. They propose an industry that will, they say, support dog food plants and create 4000 jobs. They are trying to create an industry the capitalization of which can only be supported by wholesale slaughter of one of the marine environments most magnificent creatures. Once underway it will be the equivalent of another whaling industry.
I can’t get involved in active opposition because of health issues but I am hoping one or more of B.C.’s conservation oriented organizations will start to raise an organized opposition to the proposal.
I really enjoyed your sea lion images. I’ve done some sea lion and seal photography myself and they are magnificent subjects. In my youth I did a fair amount of diving in the southern Gulf and West Coast and envy your experience of diving with these beautiful creatures. If I was 20 years younger and healthier I would give it a try myself…….but your pursuit of bear imagery by kayak has inspired me to get into that. I did a drift of the Atnarko R. for grizzlies last October and am planning to pursue coastal black bears ( and Glendale Cove grizzlies if I can swing the transportation with boating friends—I’ve poked around that estuary observing bears in the fall many years ago but I wasn’t then into photography ) this spring, with a more extended trip back to Bella Coola in the fall.
You are walking a similar life path that I veered away from back in 1971 when , on the day I was admitted to law school, I also was offered a job on the Whistler pro patrol and chose in favour of the former.I had been pro patrolling and wilderness travel instructing/basic climbing in Alberta and developing an interest in photography that I planned to pursue as part of an outdoor occupation and lifestyle. I did continue the lifestyle through my lawyering years but only got back to photography seriously about 8 years ago.
Thanks for the detailed reply, Bob. I’m so glad to hear about your river drift for the grizzlies. It’s nice to hear about people getting inspired to explore with their cameras. I’ll keep an eye on this sea lion issue. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.