A day on the water with Jim Borrowman is like sitting in the forest with Jane Goodall. Jim has been watching whales for over three decades – he launched whale watching on Canada’s west coast – and seems to sense where whales will show up or what they will do next. Standing next to Borrowman on the bridge, I slap on a wool headband as the wind blows over Johnstone Strait chilling my ears.
Even in August the nutrient-rich waters off North Vancouver Island are cool. We chugged out of Telegraph Cove hours earlier with heavy fog making it impossible to see whales on the horizon. Borrowman stops every few minutes, turning off the engines while we strain to hear the distinctive blow of a whale. Read more
You don’t have to take a big boat to see whales in Johnstone Strait.
Is that whale my mother?
Killer whales live in matrilines – family groups lead by a mother or grandmother. Males and females stay with their mothers their whole life (breeding happens when groups of matrilines come together each year).
Guides can identify many whales by their saddle patch (the white marking at the base of the dorsal fin) but on your first whale watching trip, it can be hard to understand all the relationships.
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Take time to visit the Whale Interpretative Centre and check out the ‘family tree’ for the whales you might see on the water. The visual picture makes it easier to see who’s related to who.