Campbell River is quickly becoming known as a whale watching hotspot in British Columbia. Whale watching can be a thrilling and educational activity, and being prepared and knowing what to expect can make your tour a successful one. Here are some of the top whale watching tips from our knowledgeable and experienced crew!
1. Catch up on what’s being seen.
Every day of whale watching is different, but there can be trends. Check our social media to see what we’ve been seeing lately. We have a daily sightings log on our Instagram and Facebook stories – so by checking, you can get a good sense of what wildlife has been around lately!
2. Come prepared.
Conditions on the water can be unpredictable, especially if you’re not used to being on a boat. It’s important to make sure to bring items you might need. Here’s a list of items we suggest our guests bring along:
- Backpack or dry bag (there is plenty of room onboard for bags!)
- Warm clothing layers (yes, even on a hot summer day!)
- Warm hat and gloves (for spring and fall tours)
- Closed-toed shoes
Don’t worry, we provide dry bags, sunscreen, water, snacks, sunglasses, hats, and gloves if you don’t bring any!
If you aren’t certain if you may be prone to seasickness, take medication an hour before your tour. It won’t hurt if you didn’t need it, but it’ll be too late to take it later if you end up needing it!
3. Look around while the boat is underway.
No matter how many times we see an animal, there’s always something new to watch or to find. During your tour, the more you look around, the more you will see! Between sightings of wildlife, there is beautiful scenery, and you might be the lucky one to spot a whale first (the captain can only look in one direction at a time, after all!).
4. Bring binoculars or a zoom lens.
We carefully observe marine mammals within viewing regulations to ensure our resident wildlife stays safe and undisturbed. This means giving a respectful buffer zone. Binoculars or a camera with a good zoom will give you a closer view of the action. Make sure to check for a fully-charged battery and empty memory card while you are still on land!
However, don’t forget to watch with your own eyes to get the full surroundings in and truly remember the scene, instead of just watching it second-hand through your phone screen.
5. Listen, ask, and observe.
Your guide is there to give you information – use the opportunity to learn about what you’re seeing, and don’t be afraid to ask about the animals and the area. Don’t be afraid to speak up – chances are, if you have a question, so does another guest on the tour! You can also carefully watch the behaviours of the animals to understand what they may be up to, and see how each part of our spectacular ecosystem is connected to the others. You can find many resources online after your tour to further your learning about what you saw.
6. Enjoy the experience no matter what happens.
Everyone loves the big whales and the flashy behaviours. Every day is different with wildlife, every experience unique, and we never know what animals we’ll see or what behaviours they will be engaged in. It is important to understand this is not an aquarium where animals are penned or performing for us, and watching animals in their natural habitat, just living their lives, is an extraordinary privilege.
There is so much to see here as well beyond the charismatic megafauna – from scenery, to birds, to jellyfish! Remember, wildlife photographers and videographers often have to spend weeks or months waiting to get the two minutes of spectacular footage you see on the Blue Planet specials! If possible, book your tour closer to the start of your visit in case poor marine weather cancels a trip, or you don’t see what you came for so you have a chance to rebook.