The most celebrated residents of Vancouver Island North are its marine mammals. Members of some 260 fish-eating orcas known as the “Northern Residents” are often in the area in pursuit of salmon. The more stealthy marine mammal-eating population of killer whales know as “Transients” are also often hunting in the area. Spring and fall are the best times to view large numbers of acrobatic Pacific white-sided dolphins and the world’s largest sea lion species, the Steller sea lion, is regularly found growling on the rocks. Humpback whales have been flipping their tales with increasing frequency in local waters. You can also see a slew of other local denizens while on a wildlife viewing trip such as Minke whales, Pacific harbour seals, Dall’s and harbour porpoise, and a prodigious array of seabirds.
Vancouver Island North sightseeing crews view these magnificent creatures with respect. The small community of operators here is dedicated to ensuring safe, sustainable encounters that serve the whales and the sightseers in equal measure. Captains closely adhere to “Be Whale Wise” guidelines that dictate that boats stay at least 100 meters away from any whales. That’s not to say these remarkable mammals won’t make a memorable encounter on their own terms.
Know Before You Go
Here are a few tips to keep you safe and comfortable on your adventures:
- Prepare for the unexpected
- Check the weather before you go
- Bring extra layers
Whale watching companies have established and adhere to responsible whale watching practices to promote sustainability and co-existence between people and marine mammals. It’s never been more important for wildlife viewing to be done responsibly in order to protect the health and welfare of all marine life and ensure the long term viability of viewing and learning about marine mammals in their natural habitat.
With a low volume of vessel traffic, and protection from rough seas and open ocean swells, Vancouver Island North is an excellent area for whale watching from kayaks, small power vessels, sailboats, and from shore. Read on to learn best practices and how you can contribute to responsible wildlife viewing.