Thursday represents the end of the eight day work shift for staff and our last crew run of the week. Our last crew day is also the busiest and most animated as everyone discusses the plans for their six days off. On the last leg of our pickup heading for our Althorp site we were sailing up Wellbore Channel, which lies between Hardwicke Island and Mainland BC. The channel is approximately 1km wide narrowing to less than half the distance at several points which, depending on the tide, creates a variety of whirlpools and confused currents. On this particular Thursday there was a gentle breeze which combined with the tide created a very light “chop” in the channel. Conversation focused on the coming “off-days” and some good natured back and forth. Nearly half way up the channel a head suddenly appeared out of the waves, the early shouts were a bear, a deer and then on closer view, a cougar or Mountain Lion. Mike Aske the crew boat operator kept the boat positioned ~15-25’ away as crew clamored all over each other and the boat to get a view and every digital device which could take a picture was put to work.
I had the good fortune of having made a last second grab of the video camera as I left the truck that morning, in hopes of videoing some Heli-logging that had been going on in the Area. While disappointed to find no opportunity to film that fascinating operation, an amazing substitute presented itself. Having been on this coast for nearly four years I had never seen a mountain lion in the wild, only a stuffed version at the River Sportsman. Only after I brought the video ashore and showed it off to co-workers and friends did I realize how rare the find was. Staff in the boat that day and people who have lived and worked in the woods and coast of BC for a life time, many rarely having seen this cat, had never seen nor knew of anyone who saw one swimming. This was a significant and challenging body of water for any animal to swim and in the video and at the time it was obvious “she” was struggling to complete the swim and thoroughly exhausted. The opportunity was rare and while we were all very excited, we maintained a safe distance so as not to disturb her greatly, thank goodness for the zoom feature. I hope you enjoy the video.
Submitted by Darren Ingersoll, Production Manager – Campbell River North (CRN)