Discovering Quatsino Sound, West Vancouver Island

After a night in Browning Inlet we headed for Koskimo Bay, a little farther up Quatsino Sound. We set out fairly early because we planned on kayaking up Mahatta Creek, which is best done at high tide. The usual sightings along the way… otters, birds, mountains and clouds.

Mountains of Vancouver Island from Quatsino Sound

Quatsino Sound

Sea Otters, mother and grown pup I believe

Funny story about the otters above… I’m pretty sure the smaller of the two is her pup. As we were going by he turned, swam to her, and pretty much sunk her while seeking comfort. The images of that don’t really tell the story, and I’ve got sooo doggone many to share that I opted not to post those. It was pretty darn funny though.

After anchoring near Mahatta Creek, we dropped the dinghy (John’s kayak 🤣) and my kayak in the water and set out… with cameras in hand. We love these kinds of excursions because we get to see things we can’t see from the “mother ship”, and we’re getting exercise!

The first thing I spotted as we headed toward the creek was a family of Mergansers making one of their awkward get-aways off the beach we were passing. Mom and two offspring headed frantically up the creek, while Dad did his best to distract us by flying noisily the other way. I wasn’t fooled though. I saw where they went! 🤣 (I do love the protective instinct in so many animals.)

Merganser mother and two juveniles

Merganser family cruising the shoreline

Yakin’ away!

Wildflowers along Mahatta Creek


Kingfishers! I love these little birds, and I’ve seen them in so many coastal places I’ve traveled. They are striking in color, they seldom sit still, they chirp as fast as they move, and they are quick as can be! Getting a good image of one is always a challenge, but this guy seemed more curious (briefly) than “flighty”.

Kingfisher, sitting still just long enough for me to get the shot!

John rowed the creek in Zephyr


The scene changed a bit as we went, from wooded to a deepening ravine, with a cascading waterfall at the end. (Actually we could have portaged the kayak up and apparently gone all the way to a lake, but portaging a 75lb hand-built wooden dinghy is not in the cards for us. (It’s hard enough carrying her up the beach so an incoming tide doesn’t take her away while beach-combing.

Mahatta Creek

Mahatta Creek-2

Up the creek…

Mahatta Creek Falls

John and the falls


It was tricky photographing these falls from a boat, because the water kept pushing us back down the creek. I finally grabbed hold of one of the big rocks along the edge to stay in one position, which left one hand for changing settings and holding the camera. Even managed to pull off a long exposure by holding the camera tight against the rock. (Trickier than it sounds with the rushing water!)

Peddling up Mahatta Creek

Falls at Mahatta Creek

In my happy place

John rowing back down Mahatta Creek

The water was incredibly clear, and the colors around us were so vibrant… especially the mosses and algae. When you’re living aboard a boat in salt water, even if you’re rarely in said water… up to your knees or so, there’s something especially refreshing about simply boating through fresh water. Keep in mind this water is more briny the farther down the creek you go. Up by the falls, it’s completely fresh.

Underwater algae in Mahatta Creek

Algae and grass covered rock


And as we’re coming back to the end of the creek, we startled another group of Mergansers from the same beach as the earlier group. (I would have assumed they were the same, but this is a group of 5) Interestingly, Mergansers, like many waterfowl, don’t take flight directly from the water, but instead they run across it until they have enough speed to lift off. It’s a funny thing to watch. Silly birds!

Merganser’s… running for their lives!


Since the anchorage near Mahatta Creek was not very protected, and the wind had picked up, we chose to move on to a little cove in Koprino Harbour. Even there we weren’t completely protected, so we added a stern tie to a tree on shore, just to be safe.

After we were settled, we took Zephyr across to a nearby beach to stretch our legs and do a little beach-combing. The wind was blowing through the cove directly at that beach, so gently landing on shore was a futile attempt. Before beaching I noticed a very large, lavender jellyfish. It resembled the Moon Jellyfish in shape and features, but it was much larger than any I’d seen, and wasn’t clear or pale blue. I spent a fair bit of time trying to photograph it from the bouncing dinghy, but as it got nearer the shore I simply jumped out and got my shot standing knee deep in the water. As we looked around it was obvious the wind and waves were pushing LOTS of jellyfish right up on shore to their doom.

Don’t ask me why I decided to try to rescue this one. Maybe because it was so pretty.   But I grabbed John’s bailing scoop out of the dinghy and spent several minutes trying to scoop up this big (and surprisingly heavy) blob of goo, then hopped in the boat where John proceeded to humor me by rowing against the wind and waves… far enough off shore to give him/her/it??? half a chance to survive.

Moon Jellyfish

Moon Jellyfish

Trying to scoop up about an 8lb jellyfish… not easy!

… and success!


After strolling the beach for a bit we rowed back to the boat… and along the way witnessed, not hundreds, but thousands of Moon Jellyfish… of all sizes… floating towards shore!

The following day we had another wonderful river excursion that I can’t wait to share! That will be in the next post. Until then…

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