I’ve seen migrating whales off-shore in Hawaii, but never been on a actual whale watching trip before. I’ve heard plenty of people say they went out for hours, but didn’t see any whales! It seems like killer whales are all around Vancouver Island, so we decided to take our chances and lucked out with a gorgeous day for our zodiac ride with Sooke Coastal Explorations. We went in and out of sunshine and fog, but had no difficulty finding multiple pods of killer whales and even two humpbacks. These photos don’t really convey how exciting it is to see these animals in person. If you are traveling with a point & shoot, your camera’s shutter lag is going to make it near impossible to take home many good photos. I recommend forgetting the camera and just enjoying the moment. If you have a SLR camera and a telephoto lens, you’re in business. Just don’t forget, viewing the whales is even better without a viewfinder in front of you.
The first pod we found is local to the area and you can actually identify the whales based on their dorsal fins (see chart above). We were really lucky to have Captain Russ explaining about the whales and their behaviors and he has a network with other boats. They share whale sightings, so you are far more likely to see a whale on your 3 hour trip. This adventure was so exhilarating, from the thrill of the whale sightings, to the speed of the boat…we loved every minute of it.
Our last destination was a very large pod of killer whales, but it was also very close to a Canadian Naval ship. When I first saw the back of this massive boat coming out of the fog, it scared me!
Killer whales surface more frequently, swimming closer to the surface of the water. BUT… it’s much harder to watch for humpback whales. They can stay under the water for up to 7 minutes and who knows where they are going to surface! You know the humpbacks by their tails.On our way back to Sooke we raced underneath this huge flock of seagulls. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many birds at once!