Season 2

WHALE WATCHING WITH PRINCE OF WHALES

Mysterious and Majestic Mammals

Victoria, British Columbia

by Susie Lee

WHALE WATCHING WITH PRINCE OF WHALES

I left for my whale-watching excursion from Victoria’s picturesque inner harbor. This adventure went far beyond whale watching: I also witnessed seals, eagles, and other wildlife in their natural habitats along the coast. It proved to be both a scenic and an educational adventure as my well-informed guide fascinated me with interesting facts throughout the trip.

If you are looking for a high-speed adventure, then look no further! I suggest taking a trip on a Zodiac open-style inflatable boat. These vessels are fast and maneuverable due to their lightness but they are also stable because they have a low center of gravity. They are better for the environment as they reportedly use up to 40% less horsepower, which in turn requires 50% less fuel than traditional vessels.

Sitting in the Zodiac, passengers enjoy an incredible view no matter where they are seated. I hung on for dear life with both hands on the handrail as the boat zipped along the coastline of Victoria and then out into the open waters of the Pacific. For me the ride itself was just as thrilling as the whale spotting. We sped towards the San Juan Islands, our whale-watching destination for the day. The boat ride was fast and furious, bouncy and exhilarating!

It was a warm summer day but I was glad I had bundled up in my red insulated floatation suit, as it was cool and windy out on the water. The speed just took my breath away; there was definitely no opportunity for conversation as we sped along at close to 100 km/hr. Don’t let the warmth of a summer day on land fool you; I suggest you wear a fitted hat, layers, closed shoes, and gloves on the water.

WHALE WATCHING WITH PRINCE OF WHALES

Within minutes of reaching our destination, we saw pods of Orcas traveling eastward. They were frolicking, as if to perform with us. I was impressed with how many pods of whales we saw that day – in total I counted close to 30 whales. It was fascinating not only to see them, but also to hear them communicate with each other through the hydro phonic radio. This was the first time I had witnessed the marvel of whales in such close proximity. My favorite part of the trip was when a couple of whales breached out of the water completely. This was a great 3-hour tour filled with adrenaline and an incredible variety of wildlife.

The guides at Prince of Whales are fountains of information and are delighted to educate visitors in regards to how we can make a positive environmental impact through awareness and action, both in our daily lives and on their eco-tour. They advocate for whales and adhere strictly to industry guidelines when observing the mammals in their natural habitat, by maintaining a safe distance and approaching slowly and with caution.

WHALE WATCHING ETIQUETTE

  • Approach slowly and with caution
  • Reduce speed to less than 7 knots once within 400 meters of the closest whale
  • Maintain a distance of at least 100 meters from any whale
  • Approach whales from the side rather than from behind, and move in parallel with them
  • Limit your viewing time to a maximum of 30 minutes
  • Obviously, do not swim with or feed the whales

FUN FACTS

  • Whales are social animals and travel in pods
  • Humans are their greatest threat (pollution, captivity, hunting)
  • Hearing is a whale's important sense; it helps them to navigate, communicate and locate prey
  • Orcas are the largest of the dolphin family
  • Orcas (Killer Whales) are a primary ocean predator - they consume marine mammals, fish, squid and other whales
  • Orcas can leap completely out of the water and can dive up to 1,000 feet
  • North Atlantic Right Whales are the most endangered whales in the world: it is estimated that there are fewer than 350 surviving
  • Humpback Whales can hear sounds from hundreds of kilometers away

ADVENTURE TIPS

  • Lather on the sunscreen - the reflection of the water intensifies the sun’s rays
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Wear layers (thin long sleeves, thin fleece, windbreaker jacket)
  • Pack water and snacks
  • Talk to your guide, ask questions and soak in all the information available
  • Bring binoculars
  • Most important: bring your camera. You can never take enough pictures during this once in a lifetime experience. Shoot away!

FINAL THOUGHTS

Whales are amazing creations! As mammals, they breathe air through their lungs like humans and so they must constantly rise to the surface of the ocean. They are one of the few mammals that live in the water their entire lives. So it is ever more important for us to keep their home clean. Unfortunately garbage, chemicals and noise pollute the waters in which they live and can make it a dangerous place. Whales have been found to mistake garbage for food. Some fall ill or suffer internal damage when they ingest non-biodegradable objects; others become entangled in drift nets or large pieces of garbage. Toxic chemical waste that finds its way into the ocean has been found to penetrate their skin, affecting their development and growth. Noise pollution from motor craft and explosives interferes with their communication and can damage their hearing.

There are four simple and practical ways in which you can make a daily difference to the preservation of whales:

  1. pitch in and pick up any trash you see in your neighborhood or on the beach.
  2. keep your car in tiptop shape to prevent chemical leaks that may leech into the water system - better yet, take public transit, ride a bike or carpool.
  3. buy products that are biodegradable, eco-friendly and support organic farmers who do not use pesticide.
  4. reduce, reuse, and recycle.

To sum up this adventure in one word: PRESERVATION

PHOTO GALLERY

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Prince of Whales Whale Watching

812 Wharf Street (Lower Causeway Level)
Victoria, British Columbia, V8W 1T3
Telephone: 1 (888) 383.4884
www.princeofwhales.com

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Episode 4 Guide:
Victoria

Click on any image below to visit and watch the video segment
Downtown Victoria
Downtown Victoria
Victoria Whale Watching
Victoria Whale Watching
Victoria Butterfly Gardens
Victoria Butterfly Gardens
Victoria Butchart Garden
Victoria Butchart Garden
Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre
Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre
Victoria Hang Gliding
Victoria Hang Gliding

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