Vancouver Island in Canada is probably the world’s most famous and popular place to watch orcas in their natural habitat. Since I was young, this location was on the top of my list of places that I wanted to visit. The presence of the orcas was off course the reason for that. In 2014, I visited the island for the second time. It was a great trip, full of wildlife!
Writen by Annemieke Podt
Several orca population live around the 460-kilometer-long Vancouver Island. The orcas that belong to the Southern Resident population can be found at the southern part of Vancouver Island and near the American San Juan Island, especially in the summer. Further north, you might encounter the Northern Residents during the summer. The mammal eating Transients or Bigg’s orcas can also be seen around the island, but they are less predictable. Besides the orcas, this location has much more to offer in terms of nature and wildlife.
My first visit to Vancouver Island, in combination with a visit to the Rocky Mountains, was in the summer of 2010. A new trip was planned for August 2014. This time mainly to visit Vancouver Island, with a short trip to San Juan Island in advance.
I had two encounters with the Southern Residents on tours from San Juan Island and the city Victoria. I saw members of J pod, the K14 family and the male L87. At San Juan Island, I was also lucky to see a sea otter, harbor porpoises, Dall’s porpoises, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, raccoons, deer and a fox.
More encounters with wildlife followed at Ucluelet and Tofino, located at the west coast of Vancouver Island. Here, I saw more Steller sea lions, harbor porpoises, sea otters, deer, but also grey whales, river otters, Californian sea lions, a black bear and the bald eagle.
The trip continued via Campbell River to the northern part of Vancouver Island, to Telegraph Cove and Port McNeill to be exact. Here, boat tours were dedicated to see the Northern Resident orcas, of which I saw the I15’s and A36’s families. But also here, a lot of other wildlife could be seen. Especially humpback whales were encountered, even breaching! I also saw Dall’s porpoises, a pacific white sided dolphin and a minke whale. A tour to see grizzle bears was part of my trip as well, which departed from Telegraph Cove. We saw our first grizzly bear on our way to Glendale Cove. Later on, we even saw a mother with three cubs!
It will be clear that Vancouver Island has much more to offer than the orcas! It is a beautiful island to visit when you love nature, especially in combination with photography! If you like to see more photos, check out the album on Flickr.