Pretty wild wildlife

👤Charlynn Toews 🕔Aug 01, 2013

We were camping near Queen Charlotte, enjoying toodling around the bays. When we lifted the trap into the canoe we saw four crabs—and one dogfish. “Whoa!” we all chorused, and hubby bravely reached in the trap to open the one-way door and tilted it over the water to let the fish drop in. I don’t think it was just a show for the 10 year-old (“Cool!”), but the three-foot-long shark engaged all our Jaws awe and fear by circling ominously around the canoe, dorsal fin glowering, for a few circuits.

According to, the North Pacific Spiny Dogfish (Squalus suckleyi), also known as northern shark, dogfish and mud shark, is “an opportunistic feeder,” so it could have been after the crabs or the fish-head bait attracting them to the trap.

Often we bring up the trap to see the bait licked clean, just the bones left, and no crabs. Clever beasts! How did they get out?


We’ll wonder no more, we thought this summer, as hubby cleverly attached his new GoPro camera in its watertight casing to the crab trap and set it to “video.” Caught on tape!

We canoed around Douglas Channel for an hour, the life of the battery, and pulled up the trap. Hmm, just two crabs, plenty of bait left. It was agony driving home and downloading the video but well worth the wait.

Opening shot: a sunny day near Kitimat, a crab trap lowering to the sea, camera centred on the bait in the middle. Sploosh—the camera tilts slightly upwards upon entering the drink so that only half of the trap is visible.

As the fresh water meets the briny, visibility dims to almost nothing. Deeper, deeper, and on the bottom we can see for yards around, clearly.

Less than three minutes in, the first crab appears, upstage right, walking sideways at a great pace, and as if rehearsed, confidently pushes open the visible trap door.

Four minutes in and crab two enters centre stage left.

Cue music: one halibut, two halibut, three halibut, four; a flounder, a sculpin and cod—they can’t open the door! Another flounder, here’s crab three on the go, a halibut noisily bumps the camera and hoo-boy, what a show!

We can’t wait to go camping at Kloya Bay to enjoy our new career as underwater wildlife photographers. You know, when you go boondocking you bring everything. There’s no picnic table so you bring chairs, you bring wood, campfire cooking grate, and so on. And if you forget one little special attachment thingy for the camera, your new career is on hold.

“Wanna pop into Rupert to see if we can buy one?” No, we’ll go old school and just watch the surface. The kayak rental guy assured us if we canoed one bay farther than usual, we would see wildlife.

We were sitting on a remote sunny beach, having finished our beans-in-the-can and wieners-on-sticks lunch. “Hey!” hubby yells because he saw the full-grown male mule deer run out of the bush and across the beach at full tilt then jump into the ocean. I just saw the giant white splash of water and the head of the deer, moving crazy fast across to the far shore about a mile away.

Ten minutes later, he scrambled up the steep beach and disappeared into the trees.

Pretty wild, eh?

We like to go crab fishing with our canoe. We have an 18-foot Yukon Clipper, and our crab trap fits nicely between the yoke and the stern seat. One time we caught a shark.