Last year, I visited the gorgeous city of Victoria in British Columbia (Canada) and booked a whale watching tour with Eagle Wing Tours. I was alone and thought it would be a great way to meet people and get out of the city for a bit. The tour group comprised of folks around the world, from age 8 to 67! We spent an amazing 4 hours on the water where I saw 2 bald eagles, a purple starfish, many seals and of course, killer whales! What an experience!
Some background info: The closest I’d come to whales before this tour was in Sea World as a child. I remember seeing the whales do tricks, splash water on the audience and I had a fabulous time. Over the years my opinion of places like Sea World has changed. I’m no longer comfortable with the idea of forcing animals to do tricks for human entertainment. I would rather watch a Cirque du Soleil show than a tiger jumping through hoops, a line of elephants dancing or a dolphin swimming backwards for treats and applause. With all that said, I was shocked to encounter some local Victorians who are also against these boat tours, because they feel the boats come too close to the whales. In this case, I think it depends on the actions of individual companies and how regulations are enforced by the regional & national authorities. The entire time we were out on the water, I felt like our tour company was very respectful of the whales, seals, etc. Our boat captain turned off the engine as soon as we were a few meters away from a pod so not to disturb them.
My experience was so fun. We had to be at the meeting place (their office in Fisherman’s Wharf) really early for a briefing, safety talk and to put on our ‘gear’. I remember feeling like a fireman when I put the bright red jumpsuit on. It was very heavy and not what I expected. I was there in July and thought wearing something so hot and weighty was unnecessary until we were on the water. The ocean was rough and the breeze was freezing cold. Everyone on tour was so grateful for the jumpsuits at that point. HA! We were also given hats, gloves, binoculars and info cards identifying different marine life. We kept a good distance from the killer whales and were still able to see a few whale pods. At one point, they seemed to toy with us by doing a few jumps far away, disappear underwater, come a bit closer then do it all over again on the other side of the boat. SO MUCH FUN! I actually enjoyed the whales so much that I only took a few pictures of them. I chose being in the moment over documenting the moment and the memories I took away will last a lifetime! I never felt the four hours pass and could have easily spent a whole day on the water with the whales. I definitely recommend whale watching with any reputable company when you are in BC!
Check out some pics below (unfortunately I didn’t get any shots of whales jumping):