FAQ

We have a multitude of vessels available including larger covered vessels and smaller rigid hull zodiacs. People are often surprised to learn that our zodiacs, which are the same used in large offshore rescue operations, are actually much more stable and comfortable in the waves. We are also fortunate to be located in a very protected part of the Salish Sea where there are hundreds of islands and narrow inlets for us to navigate in protected waters.

We offer tours for just about every age and budget. Our 2 hour Wildlife Adventures are a fantastic budget friendly option starting at as little as $99.00, whereas our 7 hour Big Animal Encounters is a more in depth marine experience heading deep into Desolation Sound.

Campbell River is quickly becoming known as the hot spot for wildlife viewing on Vancouver Island, and whales are certainly no exception. Because of the large tidal currents, abundance of glacial inlets and rich algae filled waters the conditions are ideal to feed a wide range of marine mammals that call the Discovery Islands home. On a nearly daily basis we can see Humpback Whales, Orca (Killer Whales), Dolphins, Porpoises, Sea Lions and Seals.

Until a very few years ago, Killer whales were considered a nuisance and in fact feared by humans. This led to a great number of seemingly brutal actions being conducted to control the population including the placement of 50mm gun placements in local areas where Killer Whales were known to transit. Humans also drove Humpback Whales to near extinction through the mid 1900’s. When whale watching operators follow ethical and safe whale watching guidelines these tours are an excellent way for people both young and old to learn and gain an appreciation for these majestic and fragile animals including what we can do to minimize our impacts.

The management and crew at Big Animal Encounters pride themselves at being leaders in the Whale Watching community, including development of training programs used by a wide range of operators. As president of the Campbell River Association of Tour Operators, our CEO is also proud to bring various levels of government as well as local operators together to openly discuss what we can do to better our procedures and improve the guest experience. We also support various research groups including the Canadian Coast Guard Whale Desk, Ocean Wise, The Whale Trail, The Orca Centre and Wild Whales Research Organization.

After 28 years of exploring BC’s coastline, we are proud to have an impeccable safety record. We operate to the strictest of standards to keep our guests, crew, vessels and whales safe. If our equipment, crews or the weather is not meeting our high standards then we are never afraid to postpone or cancel a trip.

Our zodiac vessels are repurposed RCMP and Coast Guard Rescue Vessels. They are extremely seaworthy and stable vessels designed for rough water operations. Our covered vessels are also locally built and sea-worthy aluminum coastal cruisers. Our vessels and crew are Transport Canada certified and operate to the highest possible standards.

We are pleased to welcome thousands of visitors from around the world every year. We continue to receive notes from a vast majority of our guests telling us that this is some of the most beautiful scenery and amazing wildlife experience of their lives. This is why we do what we do, we enjoy being on the water day after day showing you why we are excited to call British Columbia home.

While on our tours you will see a vast array of animals and scenery. We do follow the required minimum approach distances to all marine mammals which includes 200 metres from Orca and 100 metres from all other marine mammals, and while this provides for excellent viewing opportunities we certainly do not discourage binoculars.

On our zodiac tours we provide appropriate cruiser suits and headwear as required, so generally we would suggest light pants, sweaters and shoes depending on temperatures. On our covered vessels, passengers are able to move between the outside deck and inside cabin, so we suggest simply dressing for the weather conditions.

Although relatively rare during summer months rain does occur on occasion. During periods of heavy rain and/or wind we are sometimes forced to postpone tours. With that being said our covered vessels do allow passengers to move between the inside cabin and outside viewing deck. In the event we cancel due to weather conditions passengers are able to reschedule for no additional charge or receive a full refund.