“Whale watching” in the US of A

Yep I like to call it a “whale watching” tour. The company that runs it calls it a “wildlife” tour since it’s winter and not the best time of year to see whales. They don’t want you to get your hopes up too much!

It was a bit of a late decision but I made it to fisherman’s wharf in Victoria right on time. Brett, our cheery tour guide, said “it’s about a 50/50 chance we’ll see a whale.” I was feeling lucky.

Weather was heavily overcast (no rain luckily) and 8 degrees. Wind chill at 50km/hr on the water makes it waayyyy colder though so thankfully he gave out big, dorky looking jackets, pants, beanies, and mits.

The twelve of us hit the Canadian waters of Juan de Fuca Strait at 1pm in search of “30 foot high sprays of water.” The air was unbelievably clear – the snow-capped Olympic mountains were far away but appeared in full HD display. Almost touchable.

22/11/12 – The Olympic Peninsula in the U.S.
22/11/12 – The Race Rocks lighthouse with the Olympic mountains in the distance

Today we were the only whale watching boat out (20-30 in summer) so it felt pretty special.

Brett got a call from one of his U.S. mates who’s friend had spotted a humpback 28 nautical miles away in U.S. waters. We decided to go for it.

It was now that I fully appreciated the intricate art of driving a speed boat fast through choppy water. On the gas – back off – bang – ON THE GAS – OFF THE GAS – BANG – BANG.

We stopped by Race Rocks to the definite smell, sound, and sight of steller sea lions. “Grizzly bears with flippers,” Brett called them.

22/11/12 - Stellar sea lions on Race Rocks, British Columbia Canada
22/11/12 – Stellar sea lions on Race Rocks, British Columbia Canada

Also on the rocks were elephant seals and harbour seals. Quite stunning. These harbour seals have lived their whole life at Race Rocks, 80% of the time just laying on the rocks. In fact, only when the tide comes in and literally lifts them off the rocks do they bother moving.

22/11/12 - The lazy but efficient hunters - harbour seals on Race Rocks
22/11/12 – The lazy but efficient hunters – harbour seals on Race Rocks

Anyway, an hour later we arrived where the humpback was sighted earlier – Spieden Island (owned by the owner of Oakley as a random fact).

We looked and looked, but nowhere to be seen – the Americans just couldn’t deliver. Bit of a shame but hey the wildlife we did see here was well worth it. Bald eagles, brown pelicans, and hundreds of other birds. Plus big-horned sheep (who would have thought), and Dall’s porpoise came swimming alongside us jumping the bow waves.

So all in all a really enjoyable, educational and freezing day out. But yep they got me. I think I’ll call it a “wildlife” tour after all.

22/11/12 - Dall's porpoise on the way back to Victoria, BC
22/11/12 – Dall’s porpoise on the way back to Victoria, BC
21/11/12 – The famous parliament buildings in Victoria, BC Canada

4 thoughts on ““Whale watching” in the US of A”

  1. Dan – nice work with the foreground / background photos – that ocean looks pretty dark and foreboding

  2. Hey Dan, The adventure has well and truly begun for you. I’m enjoying your blogs and pics, a budding photographer aren’t u… How’s the cold affecting u? Sounds like it’s all an adrenalin rush so perhaps u aren’t feeling the cold…When I spoke to the family, they are missing you, first one out of the nest so to speak. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blogs and seeing some photos of the Northern Lights which you’ll see once u r north of there, always been my dream to see them. Heatwave is hitting us in Aus, summers begun. Keep warm and take care

    1. Hi Toni, sure has. It hasn’t been really cold until I got to Calgary. Around the coast it was 8-10 degrees, but yesterday and today was below -10 and snowing! I’m staying warm though, got lots of warm clothes from the people I’m staying with, and having fun rounding up cattle. I can’t wait to see the northern lights, it has been a dream of mine too. I got some great photos from the ranch but you’ll have a few more days till I post again. Thanks for the message

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