Nature photographer Nancy Brown-Schembri was just along for the ride. She had accompanied a boatload of birders with Victoria’s Eagle Wing Tours in hopes of capturing some interesting migratory seabirds or maybe even a whale.
What she got exceeded — pardon the expression — her wildest expectations.
The tour boat was motoring through the Chatham Islands off Oak Bay on Sunday when a wolf materialized from the trees near the shoreline.
“It was a lucky encounter,” said Brown-Schembri, who lives in North Saanich. “We weren’t even looking for him. He just wandered out of the woods and sat down on the rock.”
It’s a fortunate encounter so close to an urban centre.
Mark Salter, manager of tourism for the Songhees First Nation, said the lone male wolf first showed up on the islands, including nearby Discovery Island, in 2012 — the same year that elected Chief Robert Sam, a member of the wolf clan, died.
“The Songhees are particularly proud and protective of the wolf,” he said. “There is a certain affinity to the wolf being found wild there.”
The Chatham and Discovery were Capt. George Vancouver’s ships of exploration in the early 1790s.
A study of the wolf’s scat suggests seals comprise 80 per cent of its diet, the rest a variety of species, including geese, ducks and even river otters.
“He does a 36-hour circuit around the islands,” Salter said. “He’s very adept at swimming. He doesn’t have any problem moving between the islands.”