Whale Watching on Vancouver Island
One of the most exciting Vancouver Island activities is whale watching. Whale watching season is very popular and tourists come from far and wide to see these magnificent creatures up close. The most common whales we can see around Vancouver Island are Orca (Killer) whales, Humpback Whales and Pacific Gray Whales.
Orca (killer) whales
The Orca (killer) whale is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member. They have no natural predators and there are approximately 300 northern and southern residents and 225 transients in B.C./Washington waters. Researchers from around the world have been coming to Vancouver Island to study the Orca (Killer) whales for few decades and Orca whales in this region have become the best studied whales in the world. These whales are quite used to boats and will often let the whale watching boats come in for a closer look.
The largest whales around Vancouver Island, the Humpback whales vary between 12-16 meters (39-52 ft). Humpback whales are equipped with a baleen which resembles thick strands of long hair which acts as a strainer to filter out plankton, krill, herring and other small fish. Humpback whales spend the summer months feeding as far north as Alaska, however there is always a good population around Vancouver Island.
About 200 (resident) Gray Whales will stay and feed along the coast of Vancouver Island. The common name of the whale comes from the gray patches and white mottling on its dark skin.
The Best Timing…
The best viewing time is from May to October. Gray Whales migrate north along the west coast of Vancouver Island during March and April. You can view the whales by boat, or from mounted telescopes in the Long Beach area.
Where to spot them…
Orcas can often be spotted around the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island. Humpback whales and Minke whales may also be seen as in this area, as well as porpoises. During the summer months the local “pods” are in the area most days so if you happen to be in the right location you may see a fantastic show.
Here are some local whale watching companies close to us!
Written by Natsumi Matsumoto