Silence. The motor of the boat has been cut, and you drift, bobbing with the waves in the Pacific Ocean. You’re surrounded by blue, and you can see mountains in the distance. But that’s not what you are here for. You are waiting, silently, scanning the water for a sign from the top predator of the ocean: the orca. Whale watching is a huge draw for visitors in British Columbia, and there are no questions as to why: seeing these beautiful marine mammals in the wild is an incredible experience.
With Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Watching Tours of Victoria, British Columbia, we were on the lookout for whales, specifically for a pod of orcas that frequent the Salish Sea.
The Salish Sea, the body of water between Vancouver Island and the mainland, is a hotbed for whale watching in Canada. Not only are there resident orcas, but also transient orcas, blue whales, humpbacks whales, seals, sea lions, and more.
Whale watching in Victoria, BC
So there, in the middle of the Salish Sea, closer to Washington, USA than Canada we spot a spray. In the distance, we can see a pod of orcas hunting together. When we got 200-300 yards away, the engines of our Catamaran were cut, and we drifted silently waiting and watching.
This was the T65a pod, a group of transient orcas that frequent the area. They’ve been in the news recently for a couple of reasons. They love putting on a show and swim close to shore. The matriarch also just had a new calf earlier this year. The calf joins the matriarch’s four other offspring.
Baby orcas have yellowy patches rather than the bright white of the adult mammals, because, like other mammals, the babies can be born with a bit of jaundice. Orcas are a matriarchal species. They frequent the Salish Sea, so with Eagle Wing Tours, we drove out two hours to see this magnificent pod, and I am so glad I did.
Transient vs resident orcas
During the tour with Eagle Wing Tours in Victoria, British Columbia, I was awed to see six magnificent orcas in the wild. The T65a pod are transient orcas – also known as Bigg’s orcas.
In British Columbia, there are two distinct types of orcas – resident and transient. The transient orcas roam over large areas and a wide variety of diet, like seals, other whales, sharks, fish, etc. Resident orcas are a constant presence in BC and feed on the salmon that swim here.
It was so uplifting to hear that the transient whales are doing well. As I mentioned, this pod just welcomed a new calf. The resident whales, however, are not doing as well. There are only 76 southern resident killer whales, and one researcher said they have up to a 50% chance of disappearing in the next century.
This is why conservation efforts are so significant, and why I decided to go with Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Watching Tours.
Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Watching Tours
I loved travelling with Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Watching Tours. First off, our guides, Derek and Sydney, were terrific. They knew so much about these incredible marine mammals, and you could tell in the way they were speaking about them that they genuinely cared for their wellbeing.
I had the chance to chat with Sydney further during the boat ride and learned that she is a marine biologist and followed her passion for education and whale to work at Eagle Wing for five years.
Eagle Wing also has many tours to choose from based on your comfort level. You can take a speedboat or a covered catamaran for the whale watching day tours, which run a couple of times a day. During the summer months, Eagle Wing also offers a sunset tour.
They offer guaranteed whale sighting from May 15 to October 31, with a 98% success sighting rate. They provide additional trips if you don’t see whales on your initial trip. Not only do you have the chance to see beautiful orcas, but also humpbacks, seabirds, eagles, seals, sea lions, otters, coastal wolves, and more.
Eagle Wing offers shuttles to get to and from their location in Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria, BC from places in the downtown Victoria area. They also have a neat feature where each boat is equipped with hydrophones, so when those orcas are singing to each other, we can listen in.
Eagle Wing also has the most extensive range of travel, meaning they will go further to get the chance to see these amazing marine mammals. It’s easy to see why they have been rated number one on Trip Advisor for 10 years in a row.
But the reason I chose to go with Eagle Wing is because they have a 1% for the Plant mission.
A percentage of every tour purchased goes back into conservation and preservation of the whales, their food source and habitat. Some of the initiatives they support are Center for Whale Research, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Marine Education and Research Society, and so many more.
Eagle Wing Tours also started their own charity, While 4 Whales, which comes from a $2 fee dedicated to helping whales and all marine wildlife surrounding Victoria BC.
They also follow all Whale Wise guidelines. So, the whales are happy and the people seeing the whales are happy.
Who wouldn’t ask for a better company to go with?
**I am lucky to have gone on a tour with Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Watching Tours in exchange for this review. I had a truly incredible time, and all of my opinions listed above are my own. **
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