We invest in our People. We conserve our Planet. We pursue Profit without causing harm.
At Prince of Whales, our number one focus is you, our guest! We want to make sure that your experience with us not only meets, but exceeds your expectations. We want to make sure that when you leave Prince of Whales you take away more than fantastic photos. For many, seeing whales in their natural habitat is a life-changing experience. When you step off the boat and back onto the dock, we want you to be fired up! We want you to be excited about what you have just experienced, buzzing with everything you’ve learned, and eager to make a difference. It is our goal that you will share what you have learned with friends and family and carry these feelings forward, using them as inspiration to incorporate ocean conservation into your day-to-day life.
What differentiates Prince of Whales from our competitors is revealed in our attention to detail. We do not simply watch whales. We seek, we study, we learn. Most of all we educate and we aim to inspire, protect, and conserve. We want to make it easy for you to make environmentally conscious decisions while traveling. If you choose Prince of Whales for your next whale watching excursion, we encourage you to take advantage of our online reservation system. Everything we offer, with the exception of flights, can be reserved through our website. Whether you book online or over the phone, you will receive a confirmation email; this completely eliminates the need for paper receipts and allows you to save time during check-in.
One of our greatest assets as a large company is our reach, and our ability to promote advocacy for our oceans. Last year alone, our floating classrooms took over 43,000 people into the Salish Sea on an educational adventure. We aim to plant the seed of ocean preservation by raising your overall awareness. For example, the next time you’re trying to decide between buying organic vegetables or those grown with artificial fertilizers and pesticides, you’ll not only make your decision based on cost, but also factor in what you have learned about ocean conservation. You’ll remember that toxic runoff affects all the world’s oceans, and that toxin accumulation is one of the main reasons only 50% of first born killer whale calves survive their first year.
As a company we respect the natural and cultural history of the area and its significance in today’s landscape. When time allows, we regularly integrate historical points of interest into our tours such as D’Arcy Island, Harling Point Chinese cemetery, and Trial Island Lighthouse.
Another way we invest in people is through our own employees. We encourage lifelong learning by providing opportunities to attend marine mammal conferences to stay up to date on cutting edge research and acquiring the most up-to-date reference material. We support university co-operative education programs, and offer opportunities for personal and professional growth by providing access to things like continued nautical training and ticketing.
At Prince of Whales, we encourage diversity in the workplace and focus our energy on hiring a team of independent individuals who share similar values and have a high level of cultural competence. We support gender, sexuality, race, and religious equality, and encourage collaboration in the workplace wherever possible. This has helped Prince of Whales evolve into a rewarding workplace with a small, tightly knit community of likeminded individuals.
We are constantly thinking of new ways to innovate and improve; and in order to set new goals for the future, we must first examine where we are now. We minimize or mitigate our environmental impacts in a number of ways. We do lots of transporting on the water, so wherever possible, efforts are made to limit the use of carbon consuming land transportation. When it is necessary, it should be as efficient as possible. The vehicles we use for long-distance sales and marketing activities are low-emissions Smart Cars, and most of our employees walk, bike, skateboard, or take public transit to work. Bicycle parking is widespread in Victoria, and availed right outside our front doors. Video or voice conferencing is used for 95% of all communication between our two offices; when travelling between offices is necessary, we utilize our own services or the services of other local businesses whose environmental values are in line with our own.
We are constantly working to “green” our day to day operations; taking cues from the Vancouver Island Green Business Certification Checklist, we use eco-friendly and ocean safe cleaning products, purchase post-consumer recycled paper, ensure that all new office equipment is Energy Star Certified, and try not to provide guests with single use products. Where single-use items are available, such as in the Ocean Magic snack bar, discounts are offered to those who travel with their own re-usable beverage container. In addition, we have recently developed an online gift certificate program, which further decreases our paper usage.
In 2014 we are happy to announce that we have adopted our very own killer whales from the Vancouver Aquarium! No, that doesn’t mean we’ll have pets whale here in the office, orca belong in the ocean and absolutely nowhere else. What that means is our adoption fees will go to support current research on Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) in important areas such as population genetics, acoustics, and photo-identification, as well as contributing directly to marine mammal conservation. To learn more, or adopt your own whale click here. In addition to financial support, we contribute to whale research by providing regular sighting information to BC Cetacean Sightings Network, which helps determine critical whale habitat and cetacean distribution and abundance.
Finally we help the planet, and specifically the whales we watch, by being Whale Wise. The guidelines created for viewing Southern Resident Killer Whales were first developed in the early 1990’s by the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA), of which Prince of Whales was a founding member and our owner, Alan McGillivray, is the BC chapter president. The guidelines set forth include limitations on speed, orientation, distance, and duration of encounters with whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Membership in the PWWA is voluntary, and the industry is almost entirely self-regulated.
These guidelines focus on a few key principles: be cautious and courteous, slow down, and avoid approaching whales. Specifically, whales are not to be approached closer than 100m, and never from the front or behind. In general, nothing is to be done that would alter a whale’s behaviour, such as forcing them to change direction or speed, or separating groups. Full guidelines can be found on the PWWA website.
The 2012 Review of Whale Watch Guidelines and Regulations around the World had the following to say about operations around Victoria: “The industry, government and non-governmental-organization conservation management model employed in these waters (and initiated by [PWWA]) is one of the most comprehensive self-management conservation frameworks in the world. Its pioneering framework is a model being applied in the conservation management of other species in other parts of the world. It has proven to be one the most utilizable conservation tools anywhere and has been presented at the Conference of the North American Committee for Environmental Cooperation (NACEC)…”
In the United States, the guidelines are similar, but they have increased the minimum viewing distance from the worldwide standard 100m to 200yds (186m). There is little scientific evidence to back this increase, largely due to the fact that there is little scientific evidence surrounding any approach distance, so the increase was debated. However the 200yd viewing distance is in keeping with the precautionary principle, which states that reasonable practices in place for conservation should carry the benefit of the doubt for the animal and should not be removed until scientific evidence states that it is harmful or unnecessary.
The regulations for watching whales are well established in our part of the world, and are widely recognized as effective for ensuring whale safety, but they are by no means perfect. There is always room for improvement.
Our community involvement doesn’t end on the water; we are as well-known on dry land as we are in the ocean! We participate in many community development projects such as World Ocean’s Day, hosted annually in Bastion Square; the Easter Seals 24 Hour Relay for the Kids; the Victoria Pride Parade; and are a common sight at local career fairs. Every year we donate a portion of our snack bar proceeds to SPCA’s WildARC program to sponsor the care of an injured or sick seabird.
Over the years, we have also contributed close to one hundred thousand dollars to the local economy through in-kind donations. We donations and sponsorship program is geared towards supporting local tourism initiatives, local health programs, local non-profit organizations and local children’s charities. For more information about our donations and sponsorship program, or to apply today click here.