Rest, Relax, Read…There’s More Than Kayaking with Killer Whales at Orca Camp

Who doesn’t love diving into a good book on vacation? It’s one of our favourite things to do during those quiet moments at Orca Camp – before and after paddling, while sitting around the campfire, or tucked into our tents late at night, where the words on the page are illuminated by the light of our Petzels on our heads. With nothing but the night sounds of the rainforest and waves crashing on shore, a good book and a cozy tent is our idea of heaven!

We’re not the only ones that like a good read at camp – our guests do too. Some come prepared and bring their own books along, leaving them behind when they’re finished so others can enjoy them too. While others like to read up in advance, learning all they can about the things they’ll be seeing and doing. Still others just like a great page turner that teaches them about the wildlife they’ll experience kayaking the Johnstone Strait. And despite the growing trend of e-readers, most of our guests still bring “real” books along.

Are you looking for a great read before, or during Orca Camp? Here are some of our favourites:


From the publisher: Science entwines with matters of the human heart as a whale researcher chronicles the lives of an endangered family of orcas.

Into Great Silence is not set in the Johnstone Strait, but rather Prince William Sound in Alaska. Still it is a moving memoir about author and marine biologist Eva Saulitis’s experiences studying Orcas since the 1980s. As the publisher says, “Both an elegy for one orca family and a celebration of the entire species, Into Great Silence is a moving portrait of the interconnectedness of humans with animals and place—and of the responsibility we have to protect them.” We couldn’t agree more.

The Lost Whale

The Lost Whale is the story of Luna, a member of the L-pod of Southern Resident Orcas that frequent Puget Sound off Vancouver Island, who was separated from his mother at a very young age (note, Orcas social structure maintains that all young, including male Orcas remain with their matrilineal family throughout their life).

From the publisher: One summer in Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, a young killer whale called Luna got separated from his pod. Like humans, Orcas are highly social and depend on their families, but Luna found himself desperately alone. So he tried to make contact with people. He begged for attention at boats and docks. He looked soulfully into people”s eyes. He wanted to have his tongue rubbed. When someone whistled at him, he squeaked and whistled back. People fell in love with him, but the government decided that being friendly with Luna was bad for him, and tried to keep him away from humans. 

Luna’s story is legendary here in BC, and beyond the book, the 2011 documentary The Whale, tells the whole story, including its ending.

Death at Seaworld

Death at Sea World is the book that spawned the movie “Blackfish –  a gripping tale of the ramifications of keeping Killer Whales in captivity. Once you’ve read this you’ll understand why these mammals need to be protected and in their natural habitat.

From the publisher: “Death at SeaWorld” introduces real people taking part in this debate, from former trainers turned animal rights activists to the men and women that champion SeaWorld and the captivity of whales. In section two the orcas act out. And as the story progresses and orca attacks on trainers become increasingly violent, the warnings of Naomi Rose and other scientists fall on deaf ears, only to be realized with the death of Dawn Brancheau. Finally he covers the media backlash, the eyewitnesses who come forward to challenge SeaWorld’s glossy image, and the groundbreaking OSHA case that challenges the very idea of keeping killer whales in captivity and may spell the end of having trainers in the water with the ocean’s top predators.”

Marine Mammals of British Columbia field guide

The ultimate field guide! Marine Mammals of British Columbia was published in 2014 and it is the most comprehensive book on the subject you can find.

From the publisher: “In Marine Mammals of British Columbia, Dr. John Ford presents the latest information on 31 species that live in or visit Canada’s west-coast waters: 25 cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and 6 carnivores (seals, sea lions and the Sea Otter). He discusses their general biology, including how they feed, communicate, reproduce and behave in the marine environment. He also describes each species and summarizes its distribution, habitat, social organization, exploitation by humans, conservation status and much more.”

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February 27, 2015