We awoke inside a tranquil cove, eager to drop into kayaks and Zodiacs for our first up close exploration of Coastal British Columbia. Harbor seals surveyed us with giant, adorable eyes, and ravens called out our arrival with guttural croaks and acrobatic dips. Our cruises revealed common mergansers, hooded mergansers, a common loon, ruby-crowned kinglets, Steller jays, Bonaparte’s gulls, and schools of salmon congregating at the mouth of their natal stream.

We cruised for more wildlife during the afternoon, our binoculars sweeping the horizon for splashes, wings, and intertidal movement. Naturalist Julia Higgins gave a talk on the essence of forest ecology, and certified photo instructor Alex Joseph gave a talk on iPhone photography. Both topics primed us to ponder the value of discovery — through both an ecological and an artistic lens.

Evening recap was notably lively — naturalists shared information on fish traps, citizen science, soundscapes, and even played footage from the first dive of the trip, featuring a giant sculpin hiding beneath a magenta sea cucumber! Following dinner, naturalist Emily Mall gave a presentation on salmon, teaching us about their life cycle and offering a salient reminder that these fish are a main character within a big rainforest story. Salmon return to the same stream from which they emerged as young fry, and there, after an arduous journey past multiple barriers, they spawn, die, and fold back into the forest floor. Tomorrow, we hope to see this — to feel this — in person.