It’s our most frequently asked question: “What are the odds I’ll see Killer Whales if I come to Orca Camp?”
The answer, quite simply, is: it depends – anything other than that is pure hyperbole.
The first thing we remind people considering coming to Orca Camp is that this is a wildlife viewing experience – emphasis on wild. We don’t operate a marine park. The whales are there for our delight, but not for our entertainment. We don’t control where and when we see them, but there are a few things stacked in our favour that sets our Orca Camp apart and increases the odds of sightings.
1. Location, Location, Location
It’s an old real-estate adage that when you’re buying a house it’s all about the location. The same holds true at Orca Camp. The closer the camp is situated to prime Orca habitat, the better the odds of seeing these massive marine mammals in their natural environment.
Our base camp is neighbour to the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve – traditional waters of Orca – and their prime habitat. If you paddled to the very end of the crescent lagoon of our base camp you’d round the corner and be in Robson Bight (except that you can’t do that because the Bight is a protected area – no kayaking or boating is allowed).
Notice the blue, arrowed-lines on the above map. These indicate the Orca’s traditional travel routes through the Johnstone Strait and into Robson Bight. Researchers have found that when whales are present in the Johnston Strait, there’s an 80% chance the gentle giants will visit Robson Bight, making Killer Whale sightings right from Orca Camp a frequent and likely occurrence.
2. Understanding Orca Habitat
Much of the west coast has pebbled beaches, but Robson Bight is home to steep, deep and pebbled beaches called “rubbing beaches”. Orcas spend time in the Bight sloughing their skin on the rubbing beaches – a Killer Whale Spa, if you will. This behaviour is unique to the Northern Resident Orcas who swim past our Base Camp to play and rub in Robson Bight.
3. Salmon-chanted Mammals
Resident Killer Whales, unlike Bigg’s Transient or Offshore Killer Whales feed primarily on salmon – Chinook salmon is specifically a favourite due to its year-round abundance, large size and high fat content. Robson Bight’s protected habitat provides sanctuary for Killer Whales, and an abundant food source during the summer salmon run, when it’s estimated that 70% of BC’s salmon population pass through these waters en route to the Fraser River.
Orcas follow the food, it’s as simple as that. While salmon are found in our coastal waters year round, the salmon run begins in June and runs through October making July, August and early September the best time of year to see Killer Whales in the wild.
4. Book Now
Are you ready to kayak with Killer Whales? We’ve still got availability on select dates throughout the summer. Visit our website for full details.
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