Victoria Stories and Tips

A Whale of a Good Time

The Marauder IV Photo, Victoria, British Columbia

Springtide Victoria Whale Tours
950 Wharf St.

We hadn’t planned to take a whale-watching tour when we came to Victoria. My cousin Chris arranged it for us since he had never gone on one himself and thought it would be a nice way to spend a morning - nice doesn’t begin to describe the adventure.

Whale-watching tours are big business in this part of the world, and, if you get the chance to take one, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I wasn’t prepared for the adrenaline rush you get from your first sighting of these magnificent orcas breaching the water.

There are several ways to accomplish the sighting. You can take a Zodiac and suit up in waterproof gear. This is totally unsuitable for anyone with back or neck problems. They intentionally ride the wake and give you a ride you won’t soon forget.

We opted for a much more luxurious form of transportation, the 61-foot cruiser, Maurader IV. There is seating both inside and out, washroom facilities, fresh coffee and cookies, and a crew of three women. Cheryl and Liz are marine biologists while Angela is the pilot. Together we headed out of Victoria for a 3-hour cruise - and you can imagine having to listen to Al singing the theme from Gilligan’s Island. Cheryl and Liz answered questions and did a running commentary on what we would see. They are very knowledgeable and added immensely to our enjoyment. Our first sightings were of the porpoises. They looked like miniature orcas. We then went out by the lighthouse where we saw hundreds of sea lions and seals. They literally covered very open space on the rocks. We were all outside now shooting photos and climbing up onto the front of the boat.

The tension level began to rise, and, when the first whale breached the surface, there was a general burst of activity on the ship as everyone jockeyed for a position where they could view the whales the best. It was the most exciting thing I have ever done. They are so beautiful; they seemed to be dancing above the water. We watch a mother and her baby swim by. We had to sit still and literally wait for them to come to us. While they were passing, there was a microphone in the water recording their calls. We could hear them talking back and forth. It was an unforgettable experience.

We moved two more times to put ourselves in their path, and, at one point, they got quite close to the ship. I tried very hard to get a picture and didn’t succeed very well; they move so fast and you have no warning where they are going to come up. We are not allowed to move closer to them or chase after them.

The cost of all this excitement is C$95, but there is no guarantee that you will see any whales. We must have seen 30 or 40. The ones we saw were a transient pod. Every day there are lookouts watching to see where the whales are. They have a local group of whales, but these were not around on the day we went out. Where the boat travels that day is determined by where the sightings are. Whale watching tours are available April through October.

The tour is appropriate for people of all ages. There were no children on our tour but it was a school day in September, so that is probably why. Certainly children 5 and older would enjoy this immensely. A certain amount of mobility is necessary if you want to climb up to the front deck of the boat; you can, however, remain seated for the entire trip.

No one on our tour suffered from sea sickness at all. The ship was very stable, and, other than getting a little splashed with water, there were no ill affects. In fact, just about everyone took advantage of the coffee and cookies.

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