Marine Mammal Spectacle

The last day of our long weekend on Vancouver Island I chose for us to go whale watching (M was desperate for us to go kayaking and hike up a mountain, but as it was my birthday weekend, I ignored what he wanted and chose purely based on what I wanted). The last time I went whale watching was in Kaikoura, NZ – it was a beautifully still, calm day, couldn’t have been better according to the guide on the boat, yet I was busy turning a whitish-green colour and begging to be let off so I could swim back to shore. So I think it was pretty brave of me to choose whale watching again.

We scoped out some of the different options on the Saturday afternoon when we went to Tofino, and chose a place that seemed reasonably priced and only took about 12 people on each boat. The company uses zodiacs to zoom you quickly out to where whales have been spotted.

The zodiac (or one very similar) that took us out whale watching.

The zodiac (or one very similar) that took us out whale watching.

Of course, prior to being allowed out on the boat, all dumb tourists have to watch a safety presentation and there was also a video about the marine life in the area. Then we got geared up in our mustang suits (big warm waterproof suits that act as life jackets if you so happen to end up in the water), topped off by nice yellow jackets.

Sometimes you just have to go with how silly you look...

Sometimes you just have to go with how silly you look…

Anyway, eventually we set off. Once again, as with my last whale watching experience, we had amazing beautiful weather, still and calm as you can possibly get on the ocean. Luckily this time I didn’t turn green, however one poor girl on our trip did. However, in the calm, gentle bobbing up and down we did, I could distinctly detect a hint of the potential to be motion sick! We headed out to where whales had been spotted in the morning and once we spotted them, the engine was turned off and we sat there for quite a while watching the whales do their thing. We were near a pod of 3 grey whales, and it was pretty awesome to sit watching as they went down, presumably to feed, then came up and exhaled. The whales did not swim away from us, in fact one swam up to within maybe 20 metres of the boat. I tried to take some pictures but it was pretty difficult and I gave up quickly as looking through a camera lens did not do my potential motion sickness any good.

Whale 1 IMG_6573

No spectacular shots on this journey, however that was just my lack of photo taking skills. And if you pay attention to the background in these pictures, I think you’ll see that any picture on this day was spectacular – how many places in the world can you see snow capped mountains, rain forest, ocean and whales in one shot?

We also saw sea otters. When you spot sea otters, they are often just lying on their backs – having a snooze maybe? I guess if they are busy feeding you don’t see them.

Otter 1 IMG_6569

AND, as if that wasn’t enough, we also got to see a colony of seals (I don’t think they were sea lions but I’m not an expert – maybe some of my Swedish ex-colleagues can chip in and tell me which they are? UPDATE: They are sea lions!), being watched over by a bald eagle (although in the picture below all you can see are gulls in the back ground).

sealswaving seals

It was pretty funny to see the seals also lying on their backs in the water, fat little tummies poking out, with their flippers up. This was not just a lucky shot, they actually lay there in a row with their flippers up out of the water, I’m not sure what the purpose of this is however.

Well, from lions (cougars) and wolves and bears to whales and otters and sea lions – not a bad weekend!


3 responses to “Marine Mammal Spectacle

  • tokyomike55

    OK, I’m officially jealous. I’m from there, for crying out loud. On the 3 times I went whale watching for greys, we were skunked every time. They just weren’t anywhere to be seen. And no otters, nor seals or sea lions. I think we saw a few seagulls. Yeah! Anyway, good pics. Love the one with the snow peaked mountains. Home sweet home!

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