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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ’S

Our experts at Wild Whales are known to go above and beyond to make your trip the most memorable one yet. We have taken some time to provide you with the answers to the most commonly asked questions, but if your question is not found here, scroll down for our phone number and don’t hesitate to give us a call.

ABOUT WILD WHALES

Our goal is to facilitate an experience that will be remembered and cherished for years to come, and highlight the beauty and fragility of our unique ecosystem and the importance of its conservation. We are incredibly passionate and enthusiastic about our local wildlife, and we love sharing our knowledge with guests around the world. We’ve been doing this for 16 years now and we’re actually Vancouver’s original whale watching company! We offer intimate excursions with smaller tour groups so you won’t have to share the boat or the whales with as many other guests. Finally, you can feel great about choosing us as your hosts because part of your fare will be contributed to local whale research and ecosystem conservation efforts.

There are whales in our local waters all year round! However, we operate between April and October every year, as the weather gets a little colder and wetter during the winter months. We primarily see Bigg’s orca, which are not a migratory species, so you are just as likely to see them at any point during our season. Our second most commonly sighted whale species are humpback whales. Humpbacks are a migratory species, so we experience a peak in their encounters in the Spring (as they migrate north toward feeding areas) and then again in the Autumn (as they move south toward their mating and breeding waters, usually in Hawaii or Mexico). Although we expect to see more humpbacks in the Spring and the Fall, every year we are noticing more and more humpbacks in the Salish Sea throughout the summer months. Their population used to be nearly extinct, but they’ve made an impressive recovery since the days of whale hunting. A successful conservation story like that of the humpback whale should give us all hope for a healthier planet and a thriving future for all wildlife species!

There’s no better time of day to see whales or to witness certain behaviours. Some days there will be a whale pod (a group or a family) close to the city in the morning, but they’ll swim out of range by the afternoon. On other days, the opposite is true. The most amazing part of seeing these animals in their natural habitat is that we never know what they’ll be up to – we get to experience them in the wild, interacting with each other and the world around them without influencing their behaviour. We get the amazing opportunity to see them hunting, socializing, travelling, displaying acrobatics, resting, or something else entirely, and each of these behaviours is both humbling and exciting to witness firsthand!

About 80% of our whale sightings are orca, and 40% are humpback whales. There is a 20% overlap from the days we are fortunate enough to see both species on the same tour! Less often we see minke whales and grey whales. 

While en route to whales, or during our search for nearby pods, we will stop and take a look for whatever wildlife the day has to offer! Every day is different and we can never promise any particular species. However, we often see harbour seals, Steller and/or California sea lions, Dall’s and/or harbour porpoise, river otters, sea stars, jellyfish, and jumping salmon among other marine species. There is a long list of marine bird species that we see regularly on our tours including bald eagles, great blue herons, rhinoceros auklets, pigeon guillemots, common murres, and oyster catchers. Less often we’ll see dolphins, goats, osprey, and/or deer. Once we saw a bear on a nearby island! It is incredibly rare that we don’t come across any wildlife on a tour, and when that happens there is still plenty of jaw-dropping vistas to marvel at!

Unfortunately you aren’t able to choose the length of your tour unless you request a private charter. Please call us to find out more about these personalized excursions.

We cannot guarantee what time you’ll be back to the dock after your excursion, but this range of time allows us more flexibility to find whales! The wider the time range we allow ourselves, the larger the geographic area we can cover in our search. 

Each vessel type appeals to a different kind of adventurer!

Our semi-covered vessel (Jing Yu) is the only boat that offers any shelter. The cabin is bordered by large windows but there is still some unenclosed, outdoor viewing opportunities at the bow and stern of the vessel. Since the tours can last up to 5 hours, you may be interested in some protection from the sun, wind, rain, sea spray, or whatever other elements you may experience on the day of your tour. This vessel is recommended for families with children under the age 6. 

The zodiac is the most adventurous option and has the highest risk of sea spray. It is slightly more expensive, but despite this it is the most popular option. The zodiac offers our most intimate tour and guests will have the opportunity to view wildlife from right along the water line! Unlike your typical zodiac, Aurora I and Aurora II have shock absorbing seats with suspension in order to keep you comfortable and safe. This vessel is suitable to all ages above 8 years old. 

The open-air experience (on our vessel called Eagle Eyes) provides unobstructed views while offering a smoother, more spacious ride than our zodiacs. All ages above 5 years old are welcome on this adventure!

Every morning we’ll check the wind forecast and sea conditions, and we will notify you via email if we need to cancel your tour due to high winds and rough seas. You will not be charged if you cannot reschedule for another date, and we would never risk your safety

Everyone reacts to motion sickness differently. If you know you have an especially sensitive stomach, there is no harm in bringing some sea sickness tablets along with you – but we recommend you take them 30 minutes prior to boarding our vessel. We cannot legally provide you with any medication, so please bring your own! We do carry some ginger candy on board which can be a natural remedy for mild nausea. We find that sensitive stomachs fare better on the open vessels (either Eagle Eyes or a zodiac), as you’re getting lots of fresh air and a clear view of the horizon at all times.

Yes! Each of our vessels is equipped with a washroom, or “head” in boat lingo. There is a flushable toilet but no running water, so hand sanitizer is provided in lieu of a sink. Unfortunately there is no changing table for infants.

We have a very high success rate! Typically we see whales on around 95-97% of our tours. If you are part of the small percentage that are unlucky and don’t see whales on your trip, you will be invited to come again for free at a future date. You will receive a non-transferable voucher with no expiration date.

You can drive, taxi, bus, or hop on a ferry (there are two ferry companies with access to Granville Island that have regular pickups from downtown, the False Creek neighbourhood, or Kitsilano). Here are some helpful links to learn more about parking on Granville Island https://granvilleisland.com/parking-information-0, the Aquabus Ferries (you can purchase tickets in advance at the following site) www.theaquabus.com, and False Creek Ferries www.granvilleislandferries.bc.ca.

The sooner the better! We have a very forgiving cancellation policy, so there is little risk in booking early. Reserving your seats in advance also means you’re likely to have more variety in your choice between vessels and departure times. You can cancel your reservation free of penalty or fees so long as you give us a minimum of 24 hours notice. We require a minimum of 48 hours notice for groups of 6 or more passengers.

The majority of our donations go toward the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the Center for Whale Research, and Keta Coastal Conservation. Last year we also contributed to smaller organizations such as the Alaksen National Wildlife Area.

Please wear flat soled shoes and dress comfortably and appropriately for the weather. Bring some warm layers – even in the middle of the summer! The temperature over the water is (on average) about 10° cooler than on land, and you’ll also experience wind chill from the motion of the vessel. You’ll be provided with an anti-exposure suit on the open-air vessel or the zodiac, but these suits are purposefully designed not to be waterproof (they act as a flotation/wetsuit when in water), so you may want to bring a rain jacket if you have one. Even on sunny days, you could experience some sea spray!

All vessels are required by law to stay 400m away from orca, but we have an exemption in which we can view orca from 200m. We were granted this exemption because we have demonstrated responsible wildlife viewing practices for many years, and we act as stewards for these animals as both educators and contributors to whale research and conservation (we provide data in addition to funding for various research projects). We can view humpback whales from 100m. In all situations we take measures to keep both our guests and our local wildlife safe, and we do our best to show our passengers natural behaviours that are not influenced by our presence.

CAN’T FIND YOUR QUESTION LISTED HERE?
GIVE US A CALL!

(604) 699 – 2011

CAN’T FIND YOUR QUESTION
LISTED HERE? GIVE US A CALL!

(604) 699 – 2011
EDUCATION & CONSERVATION
We are dedicated to protecting our Vancouver wildlife and planet. Our local whales are our family, and we know them by name!

For every ticket purchase, we donate $2 to one of the following conservation efforts:

Hot Tip

Please look for the “ocean wise” symbol before purchasing seafood. Shopping ocean wise supports sustainable fishing practices.

EDUCATION & CONSERVATION
We are dedicated to protecting our Vancouver wildlife and planet. Our local whales are our family, and we know them by name!

For every ticket purchase, we donate $2 to one of the following conservation efforts:

Hot Tip

Please look for the “ocean wise” symbol before purchasing seafood. Shopping ocean wise supports sustainable fishing practices.