Sailing Among Orca
Quaint Telegraph Cove, a cluster of wooden houses built precariously on stilts on the northeastern tip of Vancouver Island, has a population that hovers around eleven, but it’s the residents offshore that people come to bond with.
Separating Vancouver Island from the pine-covered coast of British Columbia, Johnstone Strait is seasonal home to the world’s largest concentration of orcas (killer whales). Roughly 200 orcas inhabit these waters from late June throughout the winter months.
Stubbs Island Whale Watching operates two 60-foot Coast Guard certified vessels, both with heated areas inside, viewing decks, and hydrophones that allow passengers to eavesdrop on the whales’ haunting melodies and other communications.
With a curiosity that matches the visitors’ own, the powerful, silent whales may approach the boat, which has become familiar to them over the company’s twenty-three years of cruising (the success rate of sightings is 90 percent). Individually named and identified by their scars, their white “saddle patch” markings, and the shapes of their flukes, the whales slice through these calm waters, diving and surfacing as visitors ooh and ahh. Who’s watching whom?