Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Atlas Ocean Tours featured in enRoute magazine!

April 21st, 2014 by Atlas Ocean Tours


The mystical beauty of Gwaii Haanas inspired a feature story in the April 2014 issue of enRoute magazine – the in-flight publication of Air Canada. Author Timothy Taylor and photographer Andrew Querner describe their week exploring the spectacular Gwaii Haanas coastline aboard MV Atlas.

Taylor and Querner’s experience highlights some of the amazing opportunities Gwaii Haanas offers to visitors. Hiking to the alpine meadows of Mt Yatza yielded a true appreciation of the uniqueness of Gwaii Haanas – where protection extends from mountain top to sea floor. Taylor noted the abundance and beauty of the area, noting that from Yatza’s summit “Gwaii Haanas is spread out around us… everything is connected to everything else.”

At the southern tip of the Haida Gwaii archipelago, Cape St James and the Kerouard Islands stretch out to the open Pacific. With the assistance of Captain James Nickerson, Taylor and Querner marvelled at “the end of the world” – home to a rich diversity of marine life including sealion colonies, seabirds, whales and dolphins.

Not surprisingly, food also featured predominantly in their Gwaii Haanas experience. From platters of prawns to salmon cooked over a fire on the beach, Taylor and Querner feasted aboard Atlas. They confirm that there is nothing finer than fresh seafood cooked to perfection as the sun sets in a calm inlet or bay, hundreds of miles from nowhere.

As Taylor shares – “We jig for rockfish off De la Beche Island. At the end of the day, we pull up prawn pots outside Skaat Harbour, which James cooks for dinner in spectacular style with chilies and garlic. We eat and sip pinot grigio. James tells stories of his childhood in these parts, walking the stream with his father, counting salmon. The MV Atlas is a cocoon of light suspended on the black sea, tucked into the folds of a sleeping island.” This is the true meaning of getting away from it all.

Atlas Ocean Tours is proudly an enRoute “Travel Essential” and a brilliant way to experience this remote wilderness, just a short flight from Vancouver.

Come discover Gwaii Haanas with Atlas as your mother ship, exploring “by kayak, by foot, by Zodiac … encounter the land and the sea as it might have once been experienced by [the Haida] in their most hallowed places.”

For a complete copy of the enRoute feature story, click here.

To book a trip to Gwaii Haanas with Atlas Ocean Tours, go to Book Your Trip.

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There are certain times when I’m reminded of just how incredible Haida Gwaii is. Spring is one of those times. And Spring on the west coast of the islands is about as good as it gets.

On Easter morning the sun rose over snow-capped mountains at the head of Kano Inlet where Atlas was anchored in Givenchy Bay. Small pocket islets protected us from the swell of the Pacific Ocean surging in through the inlet. As James prepared coffee and I relaxed in bed, he suddenly called out – “Whales!” I scrambled onto deck as quickly as I could. About 20 feet from the boat two humpbacks were lunge feeding on krill, splashing their tails, and casually rolling about on the surface of the glassy calm bay. We pulled out deck chairs and enjoyed the show for an hour with our hot cups of coffee in hand. Now THAT is Easter on Haida Gwaii!

ImageThe west coast at this time of year is bursting with new life as the herring return to spawn and the whales feast. The following morning we awoke to the milky blue waters of herring spawn in the inlet – the result of billions of herring eggs deposited on the long kelp fronds. Eagles, sea lions and seals watched the scene with interest, clearly excited about their imminent feast.

The Haida word for herring roe-on-kelp is k’aaw. It is a delicacy that makes my mouth water, and March is when you start to crave fresh k’aaw, knowing that after the herring arrive, the ocean will begin bursting with life as all the other marine mammals and birds follow. Easter this year was a treat – and a reminder that Haida Gwaii will never cease to surprise and awe me.

Raising the Gwaii Haanas Legacy Totem Pole, Summer 2013

February 15th, 2013 by Atlas Ocean Tours

Legacy Pole_smaller1

A 42-foot monumental cedar pole is being carved to honour the 20th anniversary of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement that established the heralded cooperative management relationship between the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada (learn more on our More about Gwaii Haanas page).

The Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole will be the first monumental pole raised in the Gwaii Haanas area in over 130 years. The carver, Jaalen Edenshaw, and his assistant, Tyler York, are bringing to life a design inspired by the connections between land, sea and people. Every pole tells a story, and the Legacy Pole relays the history of the battle and eventual agreement to protect Gwaii Haanas.

A grizzly bear holding a sculpin at the bottom of the pole is bookended with an eagle at the top of the pole to represent the protection of Gwaii Haanas from the sea floor to mountain top. Other figures on the pole include five human figures (representing the 1985 Lyell Island blockade), a raven (to pair with the eagle – the two Haida moities), three figures representing the Haida Gwaii Watchmen, and a human face tucked into the ear of a wasgo representing visitors to Gwaii Haanas. Jaalen also added Sacred-One-Standing-and-Moving to the pole after a large earthquake occurred off the west coast of Haida Gwaii in October 2012.

The Legacy Pole is scheduled to be raised in Gwaii Haanas on August 15th, 2013, with a feast to follow in Skidegate on August 17th.

The Return of the Hotsprings?

January 21st, 2013 by Atlas Ocean Tours

Katie N at hotsprings

After a magnitude 7.7 earthquake on October 28th, 2012 – the hotsprings on Gandll K’in Gwaayaay (Hotspring Island) mysteriously stopped flowing. Haidas, other islanders and people from all over the world were devastated by the loss of the famed springs. Scientific equipment was installed to monitor the island and Gwaii Haanas staff have been holding their breath, hoping that the springs would return over time.

On January 16th, excited staff discovered evidence of thermal activity on the island. There are currently two hot water seeps above ground, near the pools, but below the high tide mark. Other thermal sensors on the island are detecting heat, although waterflow has not yet returned to previous levels.

While it is not certain that the pools will return as we once knew them, it is certainly an encouraging sign. Fingers crossed we will be able to enjoy a soak together this summer!