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And now for something completely different – Bigger whales than Vegas!

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Trip Reports' started by gambler, Mar 22, 2015.

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  1. gambler

    gambler VIP Whale

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    My Trip Report

    I came back from vacation with some decent photos so thought I’d share a few. It’s not Vegas but it does involve some big whales.

    I thought of naming this report “The best $89 I ever spent” and you’ll probably agree. We spent a week on Vancouver Island and took a whale watching tour in Tofino which is on the west coast of Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia, Canada.

    From March through October, an estimated 20,000 grey whales travel from Mexico toward their summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea near the Arctic. We were told the odds were very good to see grey whales. The possibility of seeing killer whales also existed although they are not commonly seen and it would be considered very lucky to have a sighting. The tour runs 2 ½ hours.

    We set out and for the first hour had no whale sightings. We did see some sea otters and many sea lions resting on the rocks. With that many on the rock, it doesn’t smell good.

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    Finally, we saw some spouting and were able to see a number of grey whales surfacing. None of them were breeching the water but we still got to view their incredible size. Often they surface and then retreat underwater for 5 minutes or more so we spent about 45 minutes waiting and watching them. We did get better views of them than what my photos show.

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    We had a great tour and our boat headed back to land. We were about 15 minutes from shore when the captain got a call from one of the other boats telling him that a pod of orcas had been spotted. Even though we had run out of time, the captain said he’d take a swing by the location and extend our trip a bit.

    We arrived to find at least 6 adult orcas and 2 babies frolicking in the area. What an incredible sight to see these massive animals in their own environment. Orcas like to jump and they put on quite a show!

    (Taking pictures of whales is harder than you would think. It’s not like the aquarium where you know where they are going to jump. They appear so randomly and move so fast, it’s hard to catch them. I didn’t want to spend time fussing with my camera and end up missing the live show, so while I stood on deck watching them, I just kept my little Sony ‘point and shoot’ camera in my hand with my finger on the shutter. When I saw a whale I just pointed the camera in that direction and clicked off as many shots as I could while watching them. When I got back to the hotel, I found I had mostly random pics of water and mountains. After clicking over 300 pics, I did manage to get shots of at least some parts of the whale in about 50 of them. I was surprised I got so many.) Here are some of the better ones.

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    This is one day I will never forget. It was just incredible to see both Grey Whales and Orcas. Since there were at least 8 killer whales jumping and swimming, we had constant sightings. Lucky St. Patrick’s Day indeed! We spent about 45 minutes watching them (bringing our tour to 3 ½ hours) before we had to go back to the dock so the next tour could start.

    I will remember one particular sighting for the rest of my life. I was standing at the back of the boat talking to a couple visiting from Vancouver. I was the only one facing the wash of the engine as everyone else was seated, facing forward. Suddenly, 2 side by side killer whales leapt through the motor wash only about 3 whale lengths from the boat. I was so startled all I could do was point and yell Oh, Oh, Oh! I probably scared the hell out of the couple with their back to the whales especially because we had all spoken of the recent death of a woman in Cabo who died after being hit from the tail of a breeching whale. These two orcas were so close, I actually made eye contact with them. I didn’t get a photo but it was a once in a lifetime moment I will never forget. My husband, who was sitting inside, claims I almost caused the boat to tip because everyone ran to the back to see!

    Here’s a few other random pictures. The bird is a cormorant. The salmon catch belonged to a couple who had gone on a fishing charter. The pic of the boat house is an old ferry that has been converted into a home. I was told it belongs to a whale researcher who lives on it.

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    Tofino is a small town of about 2,000 but those numbers swell during the tourist months. Surfing is a big draw and there were a fair number of locals out surfing the days we went to the beach. You won’t find any corporate businesses there. The local government works hard to keep them out. No Accent Inns, no Esso or Chevron, no Subway or Tim Horton’s (gasp!). The local gas station, grocery store, hardware store, drug store and pharmacy are all run by a co-op. Hotels and restaurants are all locally owned. Food and restaurant prices are a bit higher than the mainland but we got an incredible deal on our one bedroom suite with an off season rate of $79. It came with a kitchenette and pull out sofa bed for our son who came with us.

    Tofino’s economy is based on fishing and tourism and the locals are very friendly. Internet was spotty and theatres and shopping malls nonexistent so outdoor activities are embraced. Surfing, kayaking, hiking and camping are a big draw to the area as can be seen by this backpacker walking down the beach. We ran out of time to go for a hike through the rainforest but that just gives us an excuse for a return visit.

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    Hotel at $79 and whale watching at $89 – on spring break to boot. That’s a win in my book and rates right up there with the excitement of a Royal Flush!

    Hope you enjoyed the pics.

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    Last edited: Mar 23, 2015
  2. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Nice pics! Thanks for sharing!
     
  3. Viva Las Vegas

    Viva Las Vegas Ramblin' Gamblin' Man

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    Cool pics and report!

    Natedog is still a bigger whale. :thumbsup:
     
  4. parti_73

    parti_73 Low-Roller

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    Rare and once in lifetime memories are indeed treasures. Thanks for sharing.
     
  5. gambler

    gambler VIP Whale

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    Well said parti. What an incredible day it was.

    Lol, so true!
     
  6. sandybeachbar

    sandybeachbar Low-Roller

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    Glad you enjoyed a bit of our beautiful island.
     
  7. gambler

    gambler VIP Whale

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    That explains your name :) I envy you!

    I camped on Vancouver Island back in the 80's when I was in my early 20's. Now that I'm just a little older, I'm swirling around renting a camper and doing a camping trip around the island. So much to see!

    The scenery (even without the whales) is beautiful.
     
  8. Tbone3336

    Tbone3336 VIP Whale

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    Outstanding gambler! Thank you so much for sharing your awesome experience with us. Glad you had such a wonderful time!
     
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