Over the last few years, whale watching in Campbell River has increasingly gained momentum. This has been due to the significant growth in the number of whales that now frequently visit the area. Although it is possible to spot these majestic creatures year-round, the months of May to September present the best opportunities.
Where Do We Go on Our Tours?
Each morning before our tour, we take a look at the weather/wind conditions, as well as where the most recent sightings have been. From there we will make a plan of where our adventure will take us for the day.
We are fortunate enough to be a part of a large network of Whale Watching Tour Companies in Campbell River. We all communicate with one another throughout the day, which makes it a lot easier to find wildlife.
Our 4 and 6 Hour Tours will typically end up doing a full circle around Quadra Island, exploring the passages in the Discovery Islands and Desolation Sound. The south end of Quadra Island has become quite a large feeding ground for Humpback Whales each summer, so keep your eyes open for their blow as they come to the surface!
Humpbacks can dive to depths of over 500ft, and will stay down anywhere from a few short minutes to over 20 minutes!
Will We See Orca while Whale Watching in Campbell River?
Part of the fun is never knowing what you are going to see! Orca travel great distances each day, so it can be difficult to predict where they will end up. With that being said, we often see Orca during our tours, the most commonly spotted are Transient/Biggs Orca (Mammal Eating), but sometimes we do have Northern and Southern Resident Orca (Fish Eating) encounters.
Southern Resident Orca are listed as critically endangered, and most of the operators have collectively signed an agreement to give them plenty of space, and to not focus on them during our tours. If we do come across them, we use it as an opportunity to educate our guests about them and their struggles, and we will continue on our way. Not to worry though, we have an abundance of other whales and marine life in our area!
Orca travel 40-75 miles each day, and dive 100-500ft to find their food. Fun Fact: Orca are actually part of the dolphin family!
How Close Will We Get to The Whales?
This is a question we often get from our guests, and it’s one we feel is very important to communicate clearly. We pride ourselves in our ability to give our guests an incredible experience, but we also have a huge amount of respect and appreciation for all of the wildlife we see.
There are viewing distance regulations put in place by Department of Fisheries and Transport Canada which dictate how far away we must be from the whales and marine mammals.
We are required to stay 100m away from all Marine Mammals (Including Humpbacks, Seals, Sea Lions, etc). The rules for Orca are typically 400m, however as a professional Whale Watching Company, we do hold an “Authorized Vessel” permit which gives us an exemption to be 200m away (with exception to the Southern Resident Orca). You’ll notice a purple flag that we fly on our boat, this purple flag signifies that we are an authorized vessel. Any vessels without an AV (authorized vessel) flag, must stay outside 400m from all orca.
Whales (especially humpbacks) can sometimes be unpredictable, and If we find ourselves in a situation where they come up unexpectedly closer, we will shut our engines down and move away when safe to do so. As incredible as some of these encounters can be, we don’t encourage or seek them out, as it’s best for both the whale and the vessels to keep a safe distance.
We can’t control what other boaters on the water do, but we feel it is our duty as stewards of the sea to set the best example we can, and alert/educate other boaters if they are not following the viewing distance guidelines
What Other Wildlife Can We Expect to See?
Keep your eyes on the water for other smaller mammals, such as Seals, Sea Lions, Porpoises, and even Dolphins! It’s not uncommon to come across pods of Pacific White Sided Dolphins during the summer months, and if you’re lucky enough to witness them in a playful mood, we guarantee it’s way better than any aquarium show you’ve ever seen!
During your trip, don’t forget to keep your eyes on the shore, as it’s common to find bears foraging on the beach, and Bald Eagles sitting in the trees!
Whale Watching in Campbell River offers so much more than just whales! You’ll have a chance to view a diverse amount of wildlife, and some of the most beautiful scenery you could ever imagine.