My Beluga whale day was gorgeous … relatively speaking for a Summer Arctic adventure in Northern Manitoba, Canada with Lazy Bear Expeditions in Churchill on the Hudson Bay, to be exact.
The weather was in the low 60’s, but the sun was shining!
We took the sea kayaks out for the day. Dragging mine behind me from the beach to shore was quite a feat and I stopped along the shoreline to rest. I had dreamed of this adventure for a long time and could see the beluga whales out in the distance bobbing their bodies in the water. Suddenly there was a bit of commotion on the shore, as I looked over to see that another kayaker had found herself knee deep in quicksand. Yikes! Someone grabbed her arm from one side and then someone from the other side and pulled her out fast!
Whew! That was the first time I had ever even seen something like this happen! Quicksand forms in the loose sand that has been saturated with water. When the water in the sand can’t escape, it creates a liquefied soil and cannot hold the weight of the kayaker. She was fine, just a bit scared.
TIP #1 Be aware of liquefied sand!
Ok, now back to the task at hand…I waded ankle deep in the freezing Hudson Bay and settled into the kayak’s seat. I then steadied myself, trying not to splash or get myself all wet before I even began. Soon I got the rhythm of the sea and the kayak as I was gliding my way towards a large group of beluga whales.
In the distance, I could see them… one thing I learned about beluga whales is that they barely come out of the water, just enough for you to see their backs or the tops of their heads or only their tails.
But soon enough, the beluga whales would come up next to me and bump the kayak! They would peek their head up out of the water just to get a glimpse of me. I thought they were so darn cute with big smiles on their faces. I would talk to them in my “high mom voice” and they would just come back around or stay steady close to the kayak. I would put my hand in the freezing water and touch them. It was incredible. I was much more excited to see them than I had expected to be and I had to be careful as not to tip over my kayak. TIP: Be careful not to tip your kayak over while admiring the beluga whales!
Between mid-June to September, the beluga whales come to the Churchill River, more than 50,000 of them! In the winter, this river is frozen over, but in the summer, they come up here to clean their skin and have their babies. I literally saw hundreds of baby and momma whales swimming side by side. They come up through the Hudson Bay and make their way up to these calmer waters in the Churchill River that are warmer (now about 40 degrees F!).
But who knew it would get even better than that?
You can read more on PART TWO of this series: Beluga Whales in the Wild: Snorkeling with Belugas!
And more about my Beluga Whale and Polar Bear Safari: Churchill, Manitoba
and my experience Snorkeling with Beluga Whales
Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry, Dr. Maloney was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation for the purposes of review by Travel Manitoba, Travel Winnipeg, and LAzy Bear Expeditions. While it has not influenced her review, PointsandTravel.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. All Photos by the author.