Joining an orca watching tour in Victoria harbour on the southern tip of Vancouver Island is much easier than up island but the experience may be far less rewarding. With luck you may see a few orcas but chances are you'll only encounter seals and sea lions or a few small pods of porpoises or the occasional minke or Gray whale. With a company like Seacoast Expeditions from May 15 to September 15 it is possible to participate in a Guaranteed Killer Whale Sighting program. For an extra $5 participants who are available for more than one day are alerted when contact with orcas has been made. They must then scramble down to the dock to meet their tour boat and are then whisked off to sea. Chances are you'll then see a transient or two but not large feeding pods as on the north island tours.

If seeing orcas is your main objective, go north. If however you look on the tours out of Victoria as just an adventure and seeing orcas as a bonus then these tours are great value for the money [See below.] You'll be screaming over the ocean on small, open but very sea-worthy seven metre zodiacs with just 11 other passengers. In two or three hours you'll see excellent examples of west coast scenery, spot seals, sea lions and proud bald eagles. Dolphins and porpoises are likely to be encountered, minke and Gray whales are a possibility and orcas, well, they're a bonus.

The End


Skunk Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage

Though not in themselves palatable, skunk cabbage leaves had a zillion uses around the aboriginal kitchen. The unusually large leaves were ideal for lining and covering containers, lining steam pits, making fruit leather and sun drying seafood. Bears are known to bung themselves up by ingesting copious quantities of mud just prior to settling in for that long winter nap. Come springtime they seek out the laxative properties of skunk cabbage to -- stand back -- flush the system.

Illustration by Manami Kimura