“This year it’s been the humpback comeback. Humpback heaven.”
B.C.’s tourism boom is making a splash for one industry in particular: whale watching.
Michael Harris with the Pacific Whale watch association says last year’s orca baby boom and this year’s humpback resurgence are making waves internationally.
“We’re seeing them in groups of 15, 20 whales in one area. Lunge feeding, doing all of these things that normally you would see them do in Alaska or Hawaii. Doing them right out here off of Victoria. And it’s been a big, big boom for the whale watch industry.”
Harris says he estimates about half a million watchers this year, up from 400,000 in 2014.
“The world really got invested in southern resident orcas.”
Whale interest peaking for B.C. locals
And he says that while the world is watching, more than ever it’s people curious about their own back yard.
“Frankly a lot of local people, especially up on the B.C. side who have never gone whale watching, suddenly wanted to go out and see their neighbours in the marine environment.”
Wider variety of species to see
And for those watching, there might be more variety to see than ever before. Harris says operators have never seen the kind of diversity now on display.
“We have record numbers of transient killer whales out there, together with our endangered resident community, together with these resurgent humpbacks that we now have out there every single day, we even have a fin whale out there. This is the second largest animal to ever live on the planet.”
Harris says that’s paying dividends for the industry, as global and local whale watchers flock to the fleet.