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Wildlife Watching in Greater Victoria

Posted on September 12, 2020

Victoria and the surrounding regions are home to unique micro-climates and ecosystems that allow local wildlife to flourish. Whether you seek a sighting or not, it’s likely a visit to Greater Victoria will yield glimpses of the local fauna. Read on to discover what you may encounter on your next visit to Victoria. 

 

Salmon Run

Each year, salmon make the impressive journey upstream to spawn. Visit Goldstream Provincial Park during this time to witness the natural feat of the salmon run as millions of Pacific salmon forge their way upstream. This journey typically takes place starting mid-October and lasts for approximately nine weeks. Start your visit at the Nature House. Naturalists are always on hand to answer any of your salmon questions. 

Image by @thorntontravels

 

Eagle Extravaganza

The salmon run attracts local wildlife who feast in this nutrient-rich water. Most notably are the eagles who come in such large numbers at the end of the salmon run that it’s often referred to as the “eagle extravaganza.” The Goldstream Estuary is closed at this time to allow the eagles to feast uninterrupted, while visitors can observe them from a safe distance. 
 

Image by @emgemstone

 

Bears

While encountering the odd black bear on a coastal trail isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility (make sure you’re bear aware), if you’re seeking a glimpse of a grizzly, Eagle Eye Adventures offers full-day grizzly bear tours between August 15 to October 15 from Campbell River. You may even get to spot the elusive and incredibly rare spirit bear, a subspecies of black bears with white or creamy fur.

Eagle Eye Adventures
Image by @eagle_eye_adventures

 

Whale Watching

A visit to Victoria is hardly complete without witnessing the incredible whales that call the Pacific waters home. It is truly humbling to see these giants in their natural habitat, and we cannot recommend this transformative experience enough. Along with orcas, you may encounter gray, humpback or minke whales. 

Note: Whale watch tour operators in Greater Victoria adhere to a strict set of guidelines to “Be Whale Wise,” which are collaboratively set out by the scientists, researchers and governing bodies. Local whale watch companies charge a sustainability fee for each tour. This fee is donated directly to foundations that assist with the conservation and research of whales. Find a company and tour right for you here.

Image by @kylejbaines

 

Marine Viewing

While out exploring the Pacific Ocean on a whale watching tour, it’s likely you’ll also encounter seals, otters, sea lions and maybe even a coastal wolf. However, you don’t have to be on the water to spot marine life. Stumbling upon a seal malting on a beach, sea lions sunbathing on coastal rocks or viewing whales from the shoreline is always a possibility on the coast.

Image by @jenninaturally

 

Under the Sea -Diving

Want to get close to underwater marine life? Book a diving tour with Rockfish Divers and experience the Salish Sea beneath the surface! From seals to anemone and local fish species, there’s no experience that offers a more intimate experience than becoming a guest in the Pacific waters. 

Image by @green_seas_and_sam

 

Birds

Twitchers will find Vancouver Island home to a variety of species that inhabit our local forests, bays and seashores. From peacocks roaming Beacon Hill Park and herons along the water’s edge, to eagles and Cooper’s hawks soaring overhead, there’s no doubt Vancouver Island is home to incredible birding. Join a local birder for a morning walk around Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary. Birds of prey, including raptors, hawks, owls, falcons and more can be studied up close at The Raptors in Cowichan.  Victoria is also home to the works of Canadian birding enthusiast, Robert Bateman, which can be viewed at the Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature in the Inner Harbour. 

Image by @matt_shannon_photography