Gray whales, humpback whales and killer whales (Orcas) ply the waves and perform their amazing watery activities up and down the coasts of Vancouver Island, BC, from Victoria to the Gulf Islands, Campbell River, Port Hardy and Tofino on the west coast.Whale watching offers a truly awe-inspiring experience as you take a close look at these huge mammals, each of them weighing thousands of pounds and playing like children in their natural habitat.
Whale watching is, indeed, one of the main highlights of any trip to the island.Whatever else you may be doing on Vancouver Island, BC, whether it’s for business or pleasure, don’t miss out on a fun, whale-watching excursion.You will definitely have a great story to share and can take photos to capture breathtaking moments.
If You Are Lucky, You May See Lots of Sea Life
Although the best time of the year to see whales is during the months of May to September, whale watching can be enjoyed all year and you may also see dolphins, porpoises, seals, and even sea lions on your trip.The following is a guide to the most likely species of whales you will see on a whale-watching excursion:
1. Killer Whales – Orcas
British Columbia’s orca population is divided into two separate and distinct groups, and the two groups never mingle socially. Resident Orcas travel in large pods within set ranges and feed primarily on fish.Transient Orcas travel in smaller groups but over larger areasand feed on marine mammals like sea lion, seals, and even other whales.
Divided into two communities, the resident Orcasstay within their own geographical range.The ocean surrounding Victoria is habitat to the southern resident Orca population comprising three pods with approximately 90 magnificent mammals in total. There are new babies every year, which are so much fun to watch as they dive up and down in unison with their mothers.
2. Humpback Whales and Gray Whales
At the northern tip of Vancouver Island, some migrating humpback whales and gray whales along with some of the transient Orcas will entertain you with their underwater songs and acrobatic breaching. According to recent records, the number of resident whales is estimated to be 217, travelling in 16 different pods. They roamaround Johnstone Strait,the mainland coast, and northern Vancouver Island waters.
There are also about 160 transient killer whales travelling in 30 pods that roam a bit farther than the resident pods. The Blackfish Archipelago and Johnstone Strait is a primary whale-watching territory located at the northern tip of Vancouver Island.There more than a dozen whale-watching cruises that operate out of Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Telegraph Cove, Alert Bay and Sointula. There are also whale-watching tours operating out of Campbell River.
3. Pacific Gray Whales
Pacific gray whales travel north along the western coast of the island from March to April.You can track them on whale-watching tours or see them from land through mounted telescopes located in the Tofino – Long Beach area.
There are more than 20,000 gray whales that participate in a very long journey from lagoons in Mexico right up to the Arctic. Some stop to rest and feed in the protected bays of Vancouver Island, while about 40 to 50 gray whales spend the entire summer feeding in areas around the island.
Savour lifetime memories as you view these amazing whales swimming and breaching within a few meters of your vessel. For transportation options in getting around to various whale-watching hotspots, check out our Vancouver Island travel page.
Republished under Creative Commons License from West Coast Aquatic Safaris, an acclaimed Bear Watching, Whale Watching, Hot Springs Cove Tour Co & Marine Charter Co in Tofino, BC on the famed west coast of Vancouver Island. Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor.