Paddling Marble River, Quatsino Sound

After the wonderful experience we had adventuring up Mahatta Creek, we were excited for our next stop, Varney Bay, at the mouth of Marble River. To get there we had to travel up Quatsino Narrows, which can run 6 knots with the current, so best near slack water. John does love his challenges, but this was really a breeze.

Along the way John spotted an elephant! (This was amusing, since I’m constantly pointing out faces, figures, animals… you name it! Sometimes he sees them, and sometimes he doesn’t. THIS… is obviously an elephant!

Quatsino Narrows

John’s “Elephant”


Once anchored we dropped the little boats in the water and headed toward a shallow marsh, which we had to paddle through to get to the river. As many Mergansers as we’ve seen this summer, and as tickled as I’ve been by their silly antics, this one takes the cake! Ahead of us on the water I spotted a big long row of them crossing the marsh. As soon as they spotted me, the whole “gaggle” of them started running across the water. 😳🤣

I counted 35 birds in this shot, and only two appear to be adults. I’ve come to understand that Mergansers are known to “egg dump”… literally drop their eggs in other nests. Later I found out that they actually lay their eggs in tree hollows, which means they are flying into another Mergansers nest and laying their eggs there. Interesting! 🤔

Huge family of Mergansers!

35 Mergansers race away!

Wildflowers along the shore of Marble River

Marble River shoreline


Three seals followed us all the way up, and all the way back down the river. They are such curious creatures, and this is a very common sighting for us. In the case of this river, the water was so clear we could easily see them swimming around us.

Curious Harbor Seal swims along

Lush shoreline of Marble River

John rowing up Marble River

Marble River reflecting the shoreline

Fern growing out of the rock face

Cascading waters of Marble River

Marble River

John shooting the scenery


And as if the river itself wasn’t beautiful enough, a juvenile Bald Eagle swooped down and landed on a rock just above the cascading water. It spent a lot of time looking up at the cliffs above us, for a parent I presume.

Juvenile Bald Eagle comes in for a landing along Marble River

Juvenile Bald Eagle perches on a rock above the cascades

Juvenile Bald Eagle, watching for Mom I think


I was mesmerized by this shoreline. The Big rock on the right looks a bit “skull-like”


And as if the eagle didn’t add enough excitement, along comes a young Merganser family! Most of the young I’ve seen are nearly grown (like in my last post), so I was surprised to see this momma with such cute little chicks. And of course I had to follow…

At this point we all headed back down the river together… except the eagle. If he had tried, I would have done my best to shoo him off. No doubt it happens, but I would have been horrified to see him make a meal of one of these cuties!

Momma Merganser and 5 fuzzy little chicks

Merganser family  playing in a gentle waterfall

Young Merganser family… so cute!

Fern wall along the river

Rock shoreline, Marble River

John enjoying the scenery

Marble River

Lush colorful shoreline

Rock and reflections

Incredible shore

And the lush color just keeps coming…

And coming…

Momma’s watching for something to eat

John enjoying it all!

And our seal friend is still with us too! (three of them actually!)


And then I spotted something I’d never seen before. It almost looked like a Christmas ornament hanging there, but I paddled in for a closer look and discovered it was some sort of  bee hive. When researched the best I could deduce is it’s a Bald-face Hornet’s nest. All I’ve got to say is that they are incredible and precise in their artistry! I seriously wanted to take this nest home with me!

Bald-faced Hornet nest? (Correct me if I’m wrong)

And while I was playing around the hornet’s nest, John got ahead of me

More wildflowers

Headed back to Summer Breeze

Weather moving in toward Verney Bay

One lone Loon

Sunset from Varney Bay


And that wrapped up a most spectacular day! At this point we have to wonder how we’ll ever top that one, but we are always aiming to try!

Do come back for more of Vancouver Island’s “Wild” West Coast!!



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