Get ready for Whale Blitz 2024: Land-Based Whale Watching for Conservation!

Group of people watching Southern Resident orcas from land. Image: Miles Ritter

Join fellow whale enthusiasts for this all-ages, family-friendly event in observing wild marine mammals and playing your part in conservation efforts!

For the third consecutive year, Ocean Wise will be hosting a Whale Blitz across British Columbia from July 13-17. Whale Blitzes offer a unique opportunity to see whales in their natural habitat while also collecting crucial data on species distributions and habitat use, which are used for the protection and recovery efforts of many cetacean species—such as whales, dolphins, and porpoises—in the coastal waters of Southern BC and Northern Washington State.

GSA will be co-hosting one of the events on July 16 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at Whytecliff Park, West Vancouver alongside WILD Outside. Don’t miss out on this fin-tastic event—we hope to see you there!

See all events & details

Why Choose Land-Based Whale Watching?

It reduces noise pollution

Whales depend extensively on echolocation- using reflected sound to locate objects- for communication, feeding, navigation, and other vital activities. However, underwater noise pollution from boats, oil tankers, cruise ships, and drilling operations in the Salish Sea severely disrupts this essential ability, affecting and endangering marine life, including whales. Observing whales from the land allows us to appreciate these magnificent creatures without contributing to the noise pollution!

It avoids interaction

Maintaining a safe distance and avoiding interacting with wild animals is not just considerate—it’s the law. In Canada, it is mandatory to stay at least 100 metres away from whales, porpoises, and dolphins and 200 metres away if they are resting or with a calf. Vessels must keep 200 metres away from killer whales in BC and the Pacific Ocean and keep 400 metres away from killer whales between Campbell River and Ucluelet. Choosing to whale watch from the land helps minimize disturbances and stress to wildlife by respecting their space and habitat.

TAKE ACTION: While the above regulations are currently in place, they are not enough. We are advocating for a 1000 metre buffer zone in all BC waters as a measure to protect the endangered Southern Resident killer whales, following the example set by Washington State.

Help the orcas by sending a letter of support!

It’s inclusive & educational

A great part about land-based whale watching is that anyone can participate! These events are free and focused on education, allowing participants to gain valuable skills in species identification, contribute to a citizen project, and connect with their own communities. Land-based whale watching is an excellent way to experience whales in their natural habitats with minimal cost while also acquiring potentially new skills.

Wondering where to go to observe whales from land?

The Whale Trail features over 100 viewing sites along the Pacific Coast. Find a location near you using Whale Trail’s interactive map and listing of sites in BC.

Helpful Tips for Land-Based Whale Watching:

  • Binoculars and cameras: Use binoculars or a camera with a telephoto lens to get a closer look!
  • Spotting whales: Look out for blows and pay particular attention to the fin shape for species identification; also watch for any splashes due to breaching or tail slapping
  • Bird activity: Keep an eye out for birds feeding on fish—whales could likely be nearby
  • Respect wildlife: Do not approach any beached wildlife, feed, or move a marine mammal—it is against the law!
  • Avoid the use of drones: Drones can disturb marine mammals due to the noise and close proximity of these unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Share your findings: Upload your findings to the Ocean Wise WhaleReport app and share them with your community to spread awareness
  • Report violations: Report any boaters violating the 400 metre distance regulation or any other incidents including feeding or attempting to touch mammals, the use of drones, and more through the Be Whale Wise reporting page or call the 24-hour hotline at 1-877-952-7277

2024 Whale Blitz event details

What & Why

A series of land-based whale watching and education events at various locations on the Whale Trail in BC where you get a chance to spot marine mammals in the wild, gain species ID skills, participate in a valuable citizen science project, and connect with your community.

When & where | July 13-17 | Across BC

July 13: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm Salt Spring Island, BC—Ruckle Park
July 14: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm Quadra Island, BC—Rebecca Spit Marine Provincial Park
July 14: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm Denman Island, BC—Gravelly Bay
July 14: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm West Vancouver, BC—Lighthouse Park
July 14: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm Galiano Island, BC—Zuker Beach (Access #17)
July 14: TBD Hornby Island, BC—Helliwell Provincial Park
July 15: 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm Cortes Island, BC—Smelt Bay
July 16: 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm Sidney, BC—Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea
July 16: 11:00 pm – 1:00 pm West Vancouver, BC—Whytecliff Park. GSA will be co-hosting this event—we hope you can join us!
July 17: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm Ucluelet, BC—Amphitrite Lighthouse

Image: Miles Ritter


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