It’s an activity that hadn’t really occurred to me – perhaps that’s part and parcel of living in Vancouver and feeling more like a local than a tourist. But when my friend Alice came to visit the city for a couple of weeks, she’d really expressed an interest in going whale watching for a day.
We booked our trip via Steveston Seabreeze Adventures and were picked up from downtown and taken to the adorable seaside town of Steveston. After grabbing lunch and coffee from a local bakery, we went to grab our whale watching boarding passes and waterproofs ready for the adventure ahead.
We started off our whale watching adventure by speeding south through the Pender Islands to meet up with a family of 9 Transient Killer Whales/Orcas, near Stuart Island in Washington State. When I say speeding, I mean speeding! I was pretty surprised by how quickly we zoomed through the water in the boat and it was super windy and kinda bumpy – all in need of catching up with the whales that had been spotted.
When we see them, our naturalist, Rhys, was pretty amazed by how social the whales were being including ‘tail slaps’ and ‘spyhops’. Transient Orcas usually stay quiet most of the time (for hunting), so it was a pretty great show.
Along the way, we saw more wildlife, and some beautiful houses. What do you think of this one?
Once we’d finally chased after the orcas and successfully saw some – I stopped taking pictures. Partly to enjoy the moment, and partly because our naturalist took some that are far better than mine, so I’ve shared them below. Thanks, Rhys!
It was pretty cool to spot creatures you only really ever see on the TV.
Next up – we were lucky enough to see Humpbacks on our whale watching trip too! We found two Humpback Whales just to the north, near South Pender Island. They were travelling slowly, most likely feeding as well – and we even got to see a locally famous female called ‘Big Mama’.
According to Rhys, the reason why ‘Big Mama’ is so special is that in 1997 she was the first Humpback Whale seen in these waters since the whaling industry drove the local population to extinction in 1908 – you can read more about Big Mama’s amazing story.
Finally, as we made our way back along the Steveston rock wall, we got a long look at the colonies of Habour Seals, California Sea Lions and Steller’s Sea Lions. Who knew there were so many different species, sizes, and colours of sea lion!?
I loved that last one – so adorable!
We soon docked after a great day of whale watching near Vancouver. If you’re after a day trip with a difference – particularly for anyone new to British Columbia – it’s a great opportunity that I’d highly recommend!
Have you ever been whale watching before? Where did you do it?