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Whale watching in Canada

Wale watching originated back in the 1950s, when whale watching started out as being an organized activity. It began when the Carbillo National Monument located in San Diego, California was declared a public spot for observing Gray whales. Five years later in 1955 water based wale watching began, which costed customers $1 to observe whales. This proved to be very popular and attracted around 10,000 tourists during its first year of operation. This lead to a sudden explosion of this industry all over North America and Canada.

Canadian Wale watching began in 1971 that the Montreal Zoological society began the first commercial wale watching event on the east side of North America. Trips were offered in St. Laurence River that offered visitors glimpses of Fin Wales and Beluga Whales.

The success of wale watching in Canada can largely be attributed to the numerous species of Canadian whales that can be observed. The past decade has seen an increasing number of wale watches flocking to the numerous Canadian wale watching points. According to studies the average number of whale watchers has increased over 25 percent in the past five years. Canadian whales such as Pilot Whales and Humpbacks are of particular interest to Canadian whale watchers. With whales getting all this attention it is no wonder why there are so many new whales watching observatories opening up around Canada. However Canadians are not the only people interested in Canadian whales, people come from all over Asia and Europe to watch, study and be amused by the numerous species of Canadian whales

However many of the tourists are not just here to observe whales, many of them also love to watch seals, dolphins, and sharks as well. Many people bring along tuna to feed the seals, sword fish and killer whales.

Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is probably the best place to watch whales in North America. It is home to a large population of Orcas also known as killer whales. Around 90 whales or three pods of orcas inhabit the waters around Victoria. The Orcas are active and social animals; the best time to go and visit them is from May right through October, they can be easily spotted in the waters of British Columbia.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia offers up a whole host of wild life, ranging from exceptional marine life to birds such as Bald Eagles. Whale watchers can expect to see many different types of whales including: Pilot Whales, Humpbacks, Fin Whales, Minkes and the occasional sighting of Blue whales, Minks and harbor porpoises. The best time to visit Nova Scotia to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures is during summer, usually starting from May right up to September.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick is another great place for whale watchers. The warm waters of New Brunswick attract whales along with a whole host of other marine life. Summer is the best time to visit New Brunswick since it offers you the opportunity to not only watch whales but also the other Canadian marine animals along with the local wild life such as birds and seals.


While in Canada don’t forget to visit Quebec. During summer whale watchers can catch a glimpse of the rarest whales in North America, Along with a whole host of other marine life. Quebec is known as one of the best places in the world to observe Minke Whales, blue whales and humpback whales. The best time to visit Quebec is in May.


Newfoundland is another great place to catch a glimpse of some of the world’s most exceptional whales, along with various other marine animals and birds. During the summer whale watchers can expect to see pilot whales, fin whales and minkes, along with dolphins and seals. If you also love to watch birds you shouldn’t miss this excellent opportunity to observe the famous Bald Eagle.

Pilot Whales

The pilot whale is said to belong to the family of oceanic dolphin or Delphinidae, even though their behavior closely resembles larger whales. There are two species of Pilot whales i.e. Long-finned Pilot and the Short-finned pilot whale. It is really hard to tell the difference when at sea, so all of them are just called pilot whales. They are also called blackfish.


The humpback whale is really a Baleen whale. Its length can range from 12 to 16 meters or 40 to 50 ft and they can weigh around 36000 kilograms. It has a distinctive shape, which includes an extraordinarily long pectoral fin as well as a knobby head. Humpbacks can usually be seen breaching and slapping the water, which makes them vary popular with children.

Fin Whales

Fin Whales are also called Finback whales and razorback whales. They are marine mammals and belong to the suborder of baleen whales. It is the second largest whale in the world second only to the Blue Whale. It can grow to up to nearly 27 meters which is 88ft long.

The best time to go whale watching in Canada is during the summer, preferably between May and August. This is the best time of year for whale watches to observe this magnificent creature.

Don't forget to also read our in-depth guide to bear watching in Canada and bird watching in Canada.
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