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Vancouver Island Whale Watching

A few weeks before this writing we were overjoyed at the news that a baby orca had been born into the Southern Resident’s Pod L.  Today, some 7 weeks later we received the sad news that  the baby, known as L86 has died. Now down to only 78 members, the Southern Resident community is at or below their numbers in 2001 when alarms rang with such intensity that they were eventually listed as endangered under the ESA in 2005.

Unlike the transient orcas that primarily feed on other mammals, the resident whales eat salmon.  Reduced salmon stocks have put pressure on the orca communities but the disposal of toxins into their environment has resulted in the mother orcas’ milk being laced with PCB’s making this a much larger problem. If education is the answer then the whale watching companies  are doing their part. The rest is up to us. 


Our Favorite Whale Watching Outfits of 2014

Mackay Whale Watching
Port McNeill
The Mackay family have been providing whale watching excursions for some 30 years.  

Situated in Port McNeill their 4 hour tours are a must do. You will not believe the numbers of wildlife you will encounter while cruising the Johnstone Strait. Sea lions, dolphins, lunge feeding seabirds, orcas and the glorious humpback are encountered on a regular basis.

If you find yourself in this neck of the woods you must take the opportunity to immerse yourself in this unique part of the world. 


Remote Passages
You could climb aboard their covered modern vessel resplendent with washrooms, viewing deck and heated cabin but for my money the open air zodiacs are the way to go. There are few occasions that provide the exhilaration that one feels when gliding through the Clayoquot Sound in an open boat.

You have several adventures to choose from including whale watching, bear watching,  sea kayaking, hiking a rainforest trail or floating in a hot spring.

A visit with Remote Passages will emphasize the connections between forest and ocean ecosystems and our place within them. 


Ocean Ecoventures
Cowichan Bay
We were wandering about one of our favorite towns, Cowichan Bay, when we saw the whale watching sign. This didn’t make sense to me as I hadn’t heard of whales moving through these waters.

Throwing caution to the wind we donned the fluorescent orange survival suits and followed Captain Lance down the dock and onto his boat. 

Off we went heading south to the San Juan Islands to find that a super pod had gathered! Lance identified the residents by their saddle patch which made the experience much more intimate. And then in a flash we observed 2 lusty orcas mating! It was an experience none of us will forget as the photograph shows. 



Prince of Whales Whale Watching
We were walking down Wharf Street in Victoria when we encountered a long line of orange cloaked people heading to the Causeway. Our first thought was of a prison day trip but no, they were going whale watching. The next day we were in our own orange jumpsuits climbing aboard a large, yellow zodiac and off we went. We rounded Ogden Point and headed off over a rolling Salish Sea toward the San Juan Islands. Our Captain brought the zodiac to a halt and pointed to a pod  on its way toward us. It’s hard to describe the emotion felt when in close proximity to these magnificent creatures. Our Captain’s knowledge and experience made the day a memorable one that we will definitely do again. 


Sooke Coastal Explorations
Whale watching is ideal from May through October but this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a west coast experience to remember for years!

The Pudwell family own and operate Sooke Coastal Explorations and have grown up on the western shores of Vancouver Island. They have an intimate knowledge and respect for the environment and when the whales have moved on they can take you on an exhilarating Eco Tour to visit with various types of seals, porpoises, otters and marine birds. Be sure to bring your camera and be at the ready to capture the glory of the sea.