Whale watching in Tofino

Yesterday started out like most other days here: a bit chilly and damp, with lots of sea fog rolling in over the beach.  (It’s not always like this here – when we were here 9 years ago it was sunny and warm every day…)  Despite this, we decided to take a boat trip out and gave the girls the choice: bears or whales.  Obviously they chose both!  That not being a viable option for a short boat trip we had a vote re-count and whales came out as the winner (we’ll try and see some bears and wolves today instead).

We headed over to Jamie’s Whaling Station, after a quick sandwich for lunch (which I would regret later…), got on the boat and sat on the top deck near the front for the best views.  The weather had cleared up by the time we’d got to Tofino so the sky was partially blue, the sea fog at a distance and the waters were calm.  Perfect!

The waters around Tofino are filled with islands, small and large.  Some inhabited, others not.  The islands are all covered in trees and some are mountains, but all of them are beautiful.  It was a treat to get up close to them as we glided past them on calm waters.

Islands around Tofino

The girls were very excited and the Little One spent a lot of time holding onto the rails, jumping up and down.  The Big One didn’t move – she’d secured her place at the side of the boat with the best view and was not going to move for anything!

Once we get out of the safety of all the islands, we headed out to the open sea.  If we kept going in this direction (for a long time) we’d end up in Japan eventually.  The sea is much more interesting here – there was lots of swell and I was reminded of the time when my Lovely Husband and I swam with dolphins on our honeymoon in New Zealand.  It was something I’d always wanted to do and I was so excited.  The reality of very choppy seas, though, made us feel sick even when swimming around in it!  The thought that I might be sick into my snorkel still haunts me now…

The girls were quite happy and the excitement of the boat crashing up and down on the waves was enough to keep them occupied, so I kept my eyes firmly on the horizon watching for whales.  It wasn’t long before we were rewarded with our first glimpse:

Whale spouting water

A humpback whale and then a grey whale and then we were all seeing whales – mainly humpbacks.  Every time there was a whale sighting the boat would stop and we’d watch the whales spouting, showing their backs and then flapping their flippers in the water or waving their tails.  It was absolutely amazing.

Humpback whale waving at us

(We were all so excited that we even forgot to feel seasick for a while!)

We spent 90 minutes watching whales feeding and diving.  We even saw a mother and baby swim past and another whale surfing over the waves.  It felt like a real privilege to see the whales in their natural environment.

The girls’ in-depth knowledge of sea creatures (courtesy mainly of the Octonauts!) came into play and the girls were able to talk quite knowledgeably with the resident scientist on board who was explaining about whale behaviour.  They certainly seemed to know more than some of the adults on board (thank you BBC!)

We then headed to some rocky islands to see seals and sealions, as well as a bird colony where 9 pairs of puffins nest.

Both the girls and I were now feeling quite sick after 2 hours of big waves so we cuddled up under my Lovely Husband’s coat and the Little One went to sleep.

Sleepy Little One

We headed in to calmer waters and back in amongst the islands.  We all immediately felt better and the Big One declared herself hungry, so I knew she was ok!

The Big One and my Lovely Husband had a chat with the captain and he showed them all the different instruments he used to navigate:

The Big One learning how to navigate

We then started watching for bears along the edges of the water, as the tide was going out and this is the time the bears come down to the water.  We didn’t get to see any bears but we did see several bald eagles:

Bald Eagle

It was a fantastic afternoon and I hope one the girls (and us) will remember for a long time.

One thought on “Whale watching in Tofino

  1. Pingback: Small Town Spotlight: Tofino, British Columbia - Hopper Blog

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