Captain’s Blog

Victoria Whale Watching Report: Bald Eagles, Seals & Sea Lions

May 23, 2019

Morning Tour

With blue above us and blue below, we set out on today’s whale watching trip heading east. Whales and other types of wildlife use the Salish Sea that surrounds us as a place to find food. Whether it is the humpbacks searching for krill and herring or the Killer Whales seeking out seals, porpoises or sea lions, local waters provide food for both baleen and toothed whale species.

We searched for misty plumes, tail flukes, dorsal fins and white splashes across the Juan de Fuca Strait and into Haro Strait but the surface of the sea did not reveal any whales.

We made our way towards San Juan Island, stopping first to view some massive members of the Otariidae family- Steller Sea Lions!

These giant eared-seals were hanging out on Whale Rock enjoying the sun.

The sea lions were not the only ones enjoying the warm rays, as we spotted two Bald Eagles perched atop the island.

Not bothered by the large and noisy sea lions, the Eagles scope out the area for possible hunting opportunities. With young chicks in their nests, they need to catch extra fish to feed their young.

We also toured slowly through the Chain Islands to check out the different species of birds, including the long-necked cormorants, gulls and Pigeon Guillemots.

Harbour Seals in their coats of many colours were sprawled out on several of the small islands, giving us some curious looks as we passed by. It was a beautiful morning on the water with stunning scenery all around.

Evening Tour

This evening we boarded Catalina Adventure and prepared to head out into the Salish Sea!

We made our way East of Victoria, towards the southern Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands of the United States. These islands offer incredible scenery as they are quite close together!

On our way into Haro Strait, we passed Trial Island Lighthouse, this lighthouse, built in 1906, is the last manned lighthouse around Victoria! Trial Island is also home to a large variety of endangered and protected vascular plants.   As we made our way along the east coast of Vancouver Island we passed Smith Island, an island across from Victoria that is for sale but is also slowly eroding away.


In the distance, we could see Spieden Island, an American owned island that was originally used as a big game hunting island! Giraffes, Lions, and a handful of different species of ungulates which were brought from all over the world to live on this island. Since then, it has changed ownership, the current owner is the founder of Oakley sunglasses. There are a few exotic species left living on the island including Sika Deer, Fallow Deer, and Muflon Sheep.

While we sat in the water near Turn Point, located on the American island, Stuart we talked about the whales we could see and their history. Stuart Island is in close proximity to Saturna Island, and Saturna is where the opinion of Killer Whales would be changed forever. The first Killer Whale ever kept in captivity was caught off of the shores of Saturna in 1964 and was then brought to Vancouver to live out its days. While the whale, named Moby Doll, was in Vancouver, it just so happened that the Beatles had a concert there one weekend as well. The whale had more guests that one weekend, then the Beatles had at their concert! It was the first and last time The Beatles ever visited Vancouver.

We made our way back to Victoria, enjoying the calm waters and the beautiful sunset on our way back!

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