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Winter Whale Watching
December 21, 2022

Winter Whale Watching

Prince of Whales


Winter is upon us, and I know what you might be thinking, the whales have begun their winter migration to warmer waters. Not exactly the best time for whale watching in the Salish Sea, right? Turns out, that couldn’t be more wrong! In fact, our latest tours have been incredibly successful with sightings of humpback whales and killer whales.

Despite our ‘main’ season taking place between April and November, our Victoria whale watching location operates through the winter, allowing sightings of many different marine creatures, which remain or are in their greatest numbers in the winter, making for truly scenic and spectacular tours with Prince of Whales all year long! You may be wondering what amazing species await you when you embark on a winter whale watching expedition…well, we’d love to shed some light on some of those common winter sights:

1. Killer Whales

Did you know that killer whales/orcas are non-migratory and can be found in the Salish Sea here year-round? Killer whales thrive in cold waters, as they develop a thick layer of blubber that helps them thermoregulate their bodies, keeping them warm and insulated even in harsh conditions. The Salish Sea is occupied by two common ecotypes of killer whales, Resident & Bigg’s, the most common of which are the Bigg’s (mammal-eating) killer whales. These impressive marine mammals are a staple of British Columbia’s whale watching tours and, luckily, we can view them all year long!

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2. Porpoises

Killer Whales are not the only cetaceans to brave the colder waters this season. Porpoises are visible all year round in this area because they don’t embark on long migration trips. Both Harbour and Dall’s Porpoise remain in the area throughout the winter and are often a highlight of our tours! You will be able to recognize the Dall’s porpoise for its characteristic black and white coloration, and the Harbour by their light gray appearance. We are very lucky to have such amazing creatures roam the Salish Sea, as the species have been considered endangered since the early 2000’s, and because they are very data-deficient, it is hard to gauge how the population is currently doing.

3. Sea Lions

Sea lions are one of the best sights of any tour! While sea lions have haul out sites up and down the coast from Alaska down to California, the two species of sea lions we see here have rookeries in opposite directions. The California sea lions, have their rookeries closer to California, whereas the larger of the two species, known as the Steller sea lions, tend to have rookeries from Oregon through to northern BC and Alaska. Breeding tends to take place in the summer months, giving us the best sightings over the winter! Because sea lions are very social, they are known to live in large colonies, most of which are located near our departing ports. These acrobatic and charismatic creatures are fan-favorites on our whale & wildlife watching tours!

There are many other incredible creatures that populate our waters such as bald eagles, cormorants, and many others that we cannot wait to share with you. We would love to have you aboard one of our 12-passenger, open-air, thrilling Zodiac tours, which depart from Victoria daily at 10:00AM and 1:30PM for 3+ hours. Find all about our current tour schedule right here. And if you’re worried about the cold, don’t fret! You will be provided with survival suits, hats, and gloves, and we have complimentary hot cocoa, coffee, and tea at the end of the tour that’ll be sure to keep you nice and toasty!

See you soon!

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