Let’s take a tour of some of the vibrant wildlife you’ll see on your whale-watching adventure.
Orcas (Killer Whales)
Easily the most recognizable whale, orcas are not actual whales at all, but rather the largest species of dolphin on the planet! Curious and extremely intelligent, they often choose to interact with people and passing ships and have even been spotted hunting seals in Victoria’s inner harbour.
Humpback whales are a large species of baleen whale often seen in Victoria, especially during their summer migration from May to October. These whales can reach 50 feet long, and weigh up to 36 metric tonnes – making them the largest whale to grace Vancouver Island’s waters! This hallmark species is a must-see for anyone visiting Vancouver Island (especially if you’re a big fan of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home).
The minke whale is the smallest of the baleen whales, feeding primarily on invertebrates and small schooling fish. They are also known to have a remarkable lung capacity, diving beneath the surface to hunt for up to 15 minutes! They are one of the more elusive species to catch a glimpse of, but their great speed and striking, curved dorsal fin make them easy to distinguish when they’re moving through the water. Astonishingly, Minke whales sometimes fall to predation by groups of transient orcas, whose superior hunting skills and ability to work as a team make them formidable adversaries.
The 30-ton grey whale is the most common baleen whale spotted off the coast of Vancouver Island. Each year, from February to October, 20,000 or more pass by on their annual migration, which is incidentally the longest migration of any mammal at nearly 20,000 kilometres long! Grey whales tend to stick close to coasts along this incredible journey, making them easy to spot on your whale-watching adventure. Unusually, in 2022, a grey whale was regularly spotted hanging out off Victoria’s Ten Mile Point, possibly due to an abundance of food in the seabed where they tend to feed.
Our Ocean Home
Most tours will also make a stop through the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve – Canada’s first protected marine park – where you’ll get to glimpse rare and iconic bird species like bald eagles, pelicans, cormorants, various types of gulls, and black oystercatchers. Located within a rich tidal zone, the reserve is also home to numerous species of seals, as well as stellar sea lions, pacific white-sided dolphins, sea otters, and harbour porpoises.
Book a Tour!
Victoria has several options to choose from when it comes to your whale-watching adventure. Most tours go by boat, but there is also an option to tour via seaplane!
- Orca Spirit Adventures (Boats & Seaplanes)
- Five Star Whale-Watching (Boats)
- Eagle Wing Tours (Boats)
- Prince of Whales (Boats)
- BC Whale Tours (Boats)
- Harbour Air Seaplanes
The best part? Most tours depart from Victoria’s Inner Harbour, which is just an 8-minute walk from the Oswego Hotel.