Although many visitors to our fair shores don’t realize it, capelin watching is no less interesting than whale watching. Without capelin, whales wouldn’t even show up in Newfoundland, these small fish are on the menu and the whales just can’t seem to get enough!

Right now is an excellent time to go capelin watching because capelin have already rolled on a select number of beaches around the island and presumably many more beaches will follow soon. If you have any capelin news, please step forward and share it on the Capelin Calendar.

A few summers back when I was hiking the East Coast Trail near Brigus South, I came upon a beach filled with eggs; evidence of a recent capelin rolling doesn’t get much more obvious than that:

A beach filled with capelin eggs - Brigus Head Path

A beach filled with capelin eggs – Brigus Head Path

If you’re not sure what you’re looking at, all that stuff that looks like sand is not sand, it’s a blanket of eggs! Here’s a closer look:

Capelin eggs and seaweed - Brigus Head Path

Capelin eggs and seaweed – Brigus Head Path

Because the entire shoreline was filled with these tiny and delicate eggs, I was unable to approach the water to see if the capelin were still there, so I continued my hike up the headland to get a look at the cove from above:

Capelin by the thousands - Brigus Head Path

Capelin by the thousands – Brigus Head Path

Wow. As an experienced capelin watcher I have seen my share of capelin, but this was something special: the massive school of capelin was mesmerizing to watch, so beautiful, it was moving like one enormous single-minded animal, it even explored the shallows with its fingers stretched out, carefully exploring its surroundings, trying not to bump into things:

The capelin creature moves by touch - Brigus Head Path

The capelin creature moves by touch – Brigus Head Path

It wasn’t long before I noticed predators among the prey, as a seal popped up and swam right through the school of capelin, cutting a clear path wherever it went. Seabirds of all sorts were also present and diving down for an easy meal. As I was enjoying the show, I heard the telltale blow of whales nearby, so I quickly got up and moved to another viewpoint where I saw these guys:

Humpback whales - Brigus Head Path

Humpback whales – Brigus Head Path

Humpback tail - Brigus Head Path

Humpback tail – Brigus Head Path

Pretty cool right? As I often say, you never know what you’re going to find on the East Coast Trail! 🙂