Migratory Whales are Back in Canada

If you're like us, you're super happy for the return of whales to Canadian waters. As of the end of March, it is officially whale season as our giant friends make their way back to the west coast after spending the chilling winter in Hawaii and Mexico.


There's something about these gentle giants that just captivates the imagination, and we can't wait to witness them up close. The whales unfortunately aren’t just going on a warm vacation, they are busy breeding and raising their young before they make the 3000 - 5000 mile trek back to the BC coast.


The whale species of the Canadian Coastlines

Whether you're a seasoned pro or just getting started, make sure to keep your eyes peeled on your next paddleboarding trip - you never know when you'll catch a glimpse of a whale on the Canadian coastlines!


Canadians are extremely lucky that we have a lot of different species in our waters making it the ideal place to do some whale watching. There are over 30 species recorded making it the prime whale-watching country. Most of the species that you will see are migratory and present in food-rich Canadian waters but only for a specific time throughout the year.


In each province you will find many types of whales;

  • British Columbia: Orca, Gray, Humpback

  • Manitoba: Beluga

  • New Brunswick: Humpback, Fin, Right

  • Newfoundland: Humpback, Fin, Minke

  • Nova Scotia: Humpback, Fin, Right, Long-finned Pilot

  • Quebec: Fin, Beluga, Humpback, Blue


**All photos were taken using a telephoto lens adhering to Canada’s Marine Mammals Regulations of the Fisheries Act.


When is the best season to go whale watching in Canada?

Summer is peak season for whale-watching, unless you're after Belugas who do over winter in the St.Lawrence. Most whales spend the winter in the warm southern waters around Mexico and the Caribean, where their calves are born.

  • March-April is when the return migration happens so is most likely when you will see them for the first time. They will be slow-moving, hungry and have calves with them.

  • May-September is when they are feeding and putting on all their fat for winter and the return trip south.

  • September-October is when they are departing Canada for warmer waters.


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The importance of whales to the ocean ecosystem

Like everything that is living in the ocean, whales contribute to the ecosystem and play a vital part in the food chain process. As predators, they feed on fish and are hunted by other predators.


Whales act like a pump that recirculates the fish and zooplankton that they’ve ingested toward the surface in the form of nitrogen-rich fecal matter. These nutrients are essential to the primary production of the marine ecosystem. As whales lie at the top of the food pyramid, any decline or increase in their population is an indication of a change in their habitat.



**All photos were taken using a telephoto lens adhering to Canada’s Marine Mammals Regulations of the Fisheries Act.


What can humans learn from whales?

These gentle giants of the sea can teach us a few things about life and priorities. We believe they have a lot to teach us about nature and the rhythm of life. These are the four things we believe you can learn from whales.


  1. Being adaptable and going with the flow. Whales search out the warmer climates and go with the flow of the current. They adapt to a completely new environment twice a year and make it work.

  2. Come up for air. No matter how busy or what the situation is whales always come up for air and breath. The same can be said for us, it’s important to take a moment for yourself.

  3. Educate yourself. Whales are extremely intelligent and have great common sense. Which is something we all need a bit off right?

  4. Stick together. They find their family and move around in pods just like we do with our friends and family. They surround themselves with loved ones and people who will protect them.


Paddleboarding with Whales

Picture yourself paddling on your board out on the water and suddenly you hear the ‘pufff’ of a whale taking a breath. If you can safety stop paddling, kneel or sit down. It’s important to stay calm and let the whale move around you and not disturb them. This is for your safety and the safety of the whales.


Here are some videos of seven incredible experiences people got on camera when out paddleboarding with whales.


Remember -“If you see tail, fin or spray - Stay far enough away.” 🐋



4 Things to Bring You Closer To The Whales


1. LEARN TO LISTEN

As you are out for a stroll along the shore, listen for the familiar sound of a whale's breathing or blow, that never fails to send a shiver of excitement down your spine and put a smile on your face.


2. LEARN TO WATCH

You can watch from the shore as whales migrate back to the coast. You can catch them from the beach or a boat if you want to get front-row seats. The Whale Trail is your best guide and resource for watching sea mammals from shore, with over 100 sites and signs hugging the Pacific Coast from British Columbia all the way down to Southern California.


3. READ TO LEARN MORE

Looking for a way to know our friendly neighbour? Read this interesting article by Oceana that provides some fun and interesting facts about the humpback whale. Once you get to know them a little better, it’s hard not to love them. We have more in common with them than you think


4. DONATE TO PROTECT

Donate to Oceana the largest international advocacy organization focused solely on ocean conservation. This is a way that you can make a difference to ensure that marine creatures, including whales, are able to live inhabitable spaces. Every bit of support makes a difference to these defenceless creatures.



Final Thoughts

Each year, we await the return of the whales to our coasts. It’s always an exciting time when they finally show up, and this year so far has been no exception. We hope you enjoyed our post and that you learned something new about these majestic creatures.


If you have any questions or want to learn more about them, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We would be happy to share what we know with you and answer any questions you may have.


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