Newfoundland and Labrador
Welcome to this photo essay by our staff and guests. Maybe you are considering a vacation to Newfoundland and Labrador; maybe you are considering a vacation with Wildland Tours; or maybe you want to enjoy some beautiful nature images and stories from the past year. Whatever brings you to our site we invite you to check out the images and further explore.
the Mammals of the Torngat National Park Reserve
Banfield's The Mammals of Canada (1977) and Snow's Land Mammals of Newfoundland and Labrador (1996) provide lists of mammals found in northern Labrador but these lists were supported by a very limited amount of field observation. Harrington (1994) provided a comprehensive synopsis of the available literature combined with interviews to summarize the fauna and biophysical characteristics of the region.
Whales and Wildlife of 2007
During 2007 we enjoyed a wonderful summer of whale watching and study. All of our guests on all of our week-long excursions viewed members of the world’s largest humpback whale gathering together with other marine mammal species. Our Whale Study Weeks included humpbacks, minkes, dolphins, fin whales, and sperm whales while our Southern Labrador Adventure featured orcas, a minke whale, hundreds of dolphins, fin whales, and harbour porpoises. We collected many scientifically useful photos and company president Dave Snow co-authored the first draft of Canada’s status report document on Atlantic orcas. Our tours also worked to document a number of incidents of orca predation on other whales. Look for our Atlantic Whales site to feature photos of the white beaked dolphins and the minke whale calf that were taken by orcas along northern Newfoundland and southern Labrador. We are continually enhancing this on-line catalogue of Newfoundland and Labrador's humpbacks and orcas so that researchers and whale lovers can keep better track of the local whales.
Land of the
Water Bear: The Torngat Mountains National Park
Inuit mythology tells of the "Torngait", the spirits that a Shaman or spiritual leader looks to for wisdom and power. “Torngat” comes from this Inuit name and the legends which hold that in this region the spirit world overlaps our own. White people have called this area the Ghost Coast and have commented how the sounds of the winds whistling through the rugged mountains bring forth the feeling that one is in another realm. If the earth is home to ancient spirits they would seek out this land where the rocks are among the oldest on the planet and the landforms hold an otherworldly appearance. Perhaps this truly is a place of spirits.
The Last Place on Earth
Roland Huntford, in his retelling of the 1911 race to the South Pole, described Antarctica as "The Last Place on Earth" but northern Labrador, the thumb in Canada's mitten, gets my vote. Let me tell you why.
During 2006 we enjoyed a wonderful summer full of whales, wildlife and cultural adventures. A major part of all our excursions is the whale research; and 2006 was a summer of discovery and insight. We established to our own satisfaction that the Avalon Peninsula of eastern Newfoundland has humpbacks that visit annually and hang out for the season. While we see hundreds or thousands of individual humpbacks over the summer, most continue to swim further north or hang out offshore while year-after-year the same ~200 humpbacks appear to stay in the near-shore region for the peak summer feeding season.
The year 2005 started with two giant squid washing up on the northeast coast. Next, we heard reports of springtime pilot whales at the edge of arctic ice… a surprising occurrence considering these whales are more commonly found off the Azores or pursuing summertime squid and herring in the deep bays of Newfoundland.
Whales of 2003
The spring of 2003 started with reports of two curious narwhals swimming among the icebergs near St. John's. Soon these were joined by huge numbers of humpbacks that appeared to arrive in early June. From June to August, our tour participants reported excellent numbers of fin whales, minkes, and humpbacks (we have the world's largest gathering of these playful acrobats). It was also a wonderful year for spotting whale calves. It is unusual to see young fin or minke whales but this year there were obvious calves in the company of adults. The humpbacks had an especially good year as most of our Wildlife Adventures and all of our Whale Study guests had up close encounters with curious calves. We were fortunate to get some great tail photos which are used for identification and censusing purposes. The mother and calf photos are especially useful, and we thank everybody who has submitted their photos to us. It was also a great year for spotting dolphins on our Viking Trail holidays. The seabirds appeared to have an excellent summer as our leaders reported the most fledgling kittiwakes seen since the 1980s.
of the Northwest Atlantic
The orcas in the western Atlantic have received little study. We know they were common enough to serve as a prominent subject for the art and rituals of the people who lived in Newfoundland and Labrador 3,000 years ago. The most famous artifacts taken from Port aux Choix National Historic Site on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland are orca effigies carved in bone. These people lived off the whales, seals, salmon, and cod of the rich north Atlantic as did the orcas they undoubtedly shared the coastline with. Today orcas are considered to be a rare sight in the west Atlantic from Nova Scotia south.
and Wildlife of 2002
The summer of 2002 provided some outstanding whale watching for our crew of Newfoundland and Labrador whale enthusiasts. Small numbers of humpbacks have always over wintered off the Newfoundland coast and we enjoyed regular sightings throughout the spring until early June when their numbers were swelled by thousands of whales including lots of small calves arriving from the Caribbean. We saw good numbers of humpbacks -- and icebergs -- along the northeast coast from the Labrador Straits to our favorite feeding beach at St. Vincent's throughout the summer. There were also lots of minke whales about but we saw fewer fin whales and dolphins than in other years.
It was an amazing year for whales. Our first 2001 visit to Labrador had our guests witness the spectacle of an orca in hot pursuit of a minke whale. While we didn't get to photograph that fast-moving episode, our luck was excellent for the rest of the year. Our Whale Study Week and Wildlife Adventure guests contributed more useful whale tail photos to the world-wide humpback census than ever before. We enjoyed wonderful weather, great photographic conditions, and some amazing beach-side shows featuring the most frequent and best photographed lunge feeding displays in over a decade. We also saw dozens of frisky humpback calves, some breaching minke whales, several curious fin whales, and later in the year, groups of up to 150 dolphins.