How close will we get to the whales?

There are strict guidelines when it comes to watching whales in Canadian and US waters. We take these regulations very seriously so as not to influence the behaviour of marine mammals in any way. We want to respect the fact that these are wild animals and remain impartial observers. Current regulation requires that all vessels (including whale watchers, recreational boaters and even kayakers) maintain a 100-metre buffer zone, although that distance can vary. Orcas, for example, require a 200-metre zone.

Whales are wild animals and they don’t know the rules. If the whales turn toward a boat, the captain makes every reasonable effort to slowly back up out of their way. If a whale unexpectedly surfaces near a boat—as sometimes happens—the engine is turned off or put into neutral, if safe to do so, until the whale has passed.

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When is the best time of year for watching whales?

Southern Resident Killer Whales are consistently sighted April through November. Humpback whale sightings have increased steadily over the last 10 years and now we enjoy the opportunity to spot them at almost any time of the year (although the vast majority of sightings occur in August through December). Gray whales are occasional visitors throughout the year as they transit seasonally, with a small number that take up residence in our waters. Transient Killer Whales can be sighted at any time during the year as they come to our waters to hunt marine mammals, particularly seals and sea lions. Most summer days we also know where to find minke whales.

Between November and May we spend time looking for killer whales, seals, sea lions & porpoises. We have a success rate better than 75% of finding whales in the winter months.

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Will we really see whales?

Yes! Prince of Whales Whale Watching has a success rate of ~93% averaged across all of our year-round departures with the success rate being slightly higher between April and October.

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