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A resident pod of orcas plies the waters around Victoria, British Columbia year round. Currently the population is roughly 85 individuals. Some 250 orcas also live on the island’s eastern coast and in the waters along the British Columbia mainland. Humpback whales, California greys and minke whales also visit on their annual migrations. A number of firms in Victoria offer the chance for some eye-popping photo ops in the nearby waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait.
Whale Watching Tours:
Located right in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, the Prince of Whales offers year-round whale watching tours. Nimble Zodiacs that seat 12 passengers put you closer to the action and guarantee you’ll get at least a little wet. Passengers must wear special red flotation suits for the Zodiac tours. The other option is on the Ocean Magic cruiser which does have an enclosed cabin as well as an open viewing area. No flotation suits are required for this tour. Either way you are soon motoring out of Victoria Harbour in search of the tuxedoed ambassadors of Vancouver Island.
Eagle Wing Tours also operates out of Victoria's Inner Harbour, offering whale watching tours on Scarabs, the same fast boats used by the Canadian Coast Guard. The boat’s pointed hull and low-slung design provide greater speed and a longer range. Tours up to 3.5 five hours are available. Protective clothing is offered but not required. The open roof does give you a better view but you will probably get wet. The tour boats do have a lower center of gravity, which helps to combat sea sickness. All Eagle Wing Tours' boats have on-board washrooms.
Great Pacific Adventures is also in the Inner Harbour and offers both Zodiac and cruiser whale watching tours. This firm also rents kayaks, rowboats, power boats and bicycles.