Jamie Bray started out his whale watching trips out of Tofino in 1982, but on the day in March 2011 we wanted to go, we found out that the second office in Ucluelet had a family deal, which meant that the kids were free if there were enough adults. It’s $99 per person for the whale watching tour. If you have a child under 5 or a certain height, you are required to do the tour in a covered boat (not a Zodiac). In this case, our vessel was the Lady Selkirk.
We were early in the season (the Ucluelet operation starts March 15) and there were not tons of people on our trip. The weather may have been a factor. It turned from sunny to pouring rain in a blink of an eye. Ucluelet Harbour is wonderfully calm, but when you headed out into more open water things got choppy. Our three-year-old said what you don’t want to hear: “I want to go back!”
But once out at the herring spawning ground we were greeted by a large number of sea lions, eagles and two gray whales. Apparently the whales head to California and Mexico to have babies in warm water, but they eat nothing until March when they come back to the northern waters. You have to watch for the spray from their spouts because, in this case, they were feeding on the bottom. Occasionally you see a fluke or tail fin pop out and the ridge of their spines. Strangely difficult to photograph, I must add, as I was using my rather anachronistic long lens with my 35 mm film SLR.
But when you are out on the water with these whales, you can’t help but be impressed that such large creatures live in the water. Fortunately for us uninformed folks, Jamies staff know their stuff. For example they know to have extra rain coats and blankets to loan you. Furthermore, did you know that if you are caught in the spray from a whale, it’s rather stinky? Whales have whale breath!
Contact Info is here:
Jamie’s Whaling Station & Adventure Centres
606 Campbell Street, Tofino – (250) 725-3919
168 Fraser Lane, Ucluelet – (250) 726-7444