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Amongst the varied range of cetaceans, orcas (killer whales) are usually the primary focus of whale–watching tours to the Salish Sea. Indeed, they are considered 'common' in British Columbia’s coastal waters.

The Salish Sea consists of the coastal waterways that surround the southern portions of Vancouver Island, and includes major bodies of water such as the Strait of Georgia, Juan de Fuca Strait, and Puget Sound. Although a major shipping channel, the density and variety of marine life in and around the area makes it an exciting and enlightening locale from which to observe orcas in their natural environment, as they play, feed and swim in their family groups.

In addition to orca, minke whales, Dall’s, and harbour porpoises, harbour seals, Stellar sea lions and bald eagles may also be seen.

The closest town to the area from which to board a whale watching boat trip is Sidney, a small, attractive, sleepy town on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Located on the north of Victoria , Sidney is home to a couple of simple hotels, a few restaurants, coffee shops and bars, and a marina. It has a sheltered harbour, calm seas, and the beautiful Gulf Islands, which lies right offshore in the Salish Sea.

Read Amanda Madro's fascinating article about her study of J, K, and L orca pods in the Salish Sea.

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Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: orca, Steller’s sealion, bald eagle, harbour porpoise, harbour seal
  • Where: British Columbia, Canada

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Bears & Orcas Up Close

See pods of orcas and other whales as they glide through the Salish Sea off Vancouver Island, before you fly north to the Yukon. A helicopter trip to a bear camp deep in the forest on the Taku River gives close sightings of grizzly bears going about their business in the wild, and bald eagles on the wing.

  • When to go: Jul-Aug
  • Duration inc. flights: 14 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £8,495 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea