Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Whale, sea lion and bird watching out of Steveston, British Columbia

Several years ago, while spending time in the fun fishing village of Steveston near Richmond, BC, I went out with Vancouver Whale Watch on their two-hour Sea Lion Tour. Although the tour is only offered in the spring (April 1-May 15), when both Steller and California sea lions visit the Fraser River Estuary, the whale watching season in Steveston runs April 1-October 31. Two other local outfitters, Steveston Seabreeze Adventures and Steveston Eco Tours, also offer daily whale watching tours.

Killer whales (orcas) come to the region to feast on the salmon that return to spawn in the Fraser River. The migration up the river begins in May and continues into October. Three pods of killer whales, which total around 80, return to the area each year.

The tours run from 3-5 hours, traveling through BC's Gulf Islands. Naturalists on board discuss the marine ecosystem and answer questions. In addition to orcas, plan on seeing Dall's porpoises, sea lions, seals, eagles and of course, seagulls. The three companies all offer guaranteed whale sightings -- if they don't make an appearance during your trip, you're welcome on a return trip until you do. All the companies offer eco-friendly tours, maintaining a respectful distance from the marine mammals, and using vessels with low emissions. Here are photos from my trip.

Vancouver Whale Watch trip out of Steveston, BC in May 2009
Photos by Sue Frause

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