What you can see

What you can see

One of the foremost reasons people come to Telegraph Cove is for the opportunity to see whales. It is world-renowned as the best place in the world to see killer whales (orcas). In addition to over 200 Northern Resident killer whales who return every summer to gorge on salmon and rub themselves on the beaches of the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve, we are visited year-round by pods of Bigg’s killer whales, while humpback whales forage the narrow straits. Our sea kayak tours will take you to specific areas where we know these whales frequent and our camps are located on beaches we know they swim by. The rest is down to luck, the time of year you paddle out and how much time you spend with us. With our local knowledge and our team of guides, North Island Kayak provides the best opportunities that Vancouver Island has to offer. In addition to whales we also regularly see Steller sea lions, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoise, river otters, black bears, Minke whales, harbour seals, bald eagles, mink, deer and salmon. Our Wildlife Seasonality Chart is based on data collected from 3-day trips. We do not guarantee sightings of any kind*.

We recommend embarking on a multi-day or nomadic tour to be able to see whales. The more time you spend on the water, the better your chances of sightings!

Humpback Whales

An ever-increasing number of humpback whales are returning to this area. Since the early ’80s when there were none, their numbers have steadily climbed to be over 500. These giants of the ocean have become a great favourite among both guests and guides due to their antics and reliable sightings. Affectionally referred to as “humpies,” these magnificent whales are easily identifiable as they dive while “humping” their backs and gliding effortlessly by cruise ships and whale watching boats. Tours of 4+ days are your best bet to see these whales while kayaking.

orca in telegraph cove

Killer Whales

While paddling in the Johnstone Strait, the likelihood of encountering orcas is notably high. The area is known for spotting both Biggs killer whales, as well as Northern Resident Killer Whales. These orcas routinely stop by the “rubbing beaches” such as the one in the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve. We recommend choosing tours of 4+ days to see these whales while kayaking.

Black Bears

There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of black bear sightings on northern Vancouver Island! Most sightings occur by the roadside where the bears eat grass, or on one of the numerous beaches where they can be found flipping over rocks whilst foraging for crabs. Black bears are mostly non-aggressive unless threatened or antagonized. There are very few attacks; however, you should still treat this animal with the utmost respect.

steller sea lion

Steller Sea Lions

Steller sea lions are regularly seen on our sea kayaking holidays of Johnstone Strait & the Broughton Archipelago. They are the largest in the sea lion family, weighing in at around 2000 lbs or 900 kg. Males have fur on their backs and chests; thus the name. It is believed that their closest living land relative is the Grizzly Bear.

Bald Eagles

The bald eagle is one of nature’s ultimate success stories. After years of being listed as an endangered species, in lieu of pesticides hindering their ability to lay healthy eggs, the bald eagle has persevered and is now thriving in a variety of habitats today! Look out for these aerial acrobats on your kayaking tour. They can be seen on the shoreline, in the trees, flying by or hovering around bait balls of fish.

bald eagle
dall's poirpoise

Dall’s Porpoises

Dall’s porpoises are a rare sight, but we’ve been able to spot them while kayaking! You can tell these creatures apart by their distinctive colouration, as they are predominantly black with patches of white to grey on their flank and belly.

Pacific White-Sided Dolphins

Found in large, energetic pods, Pacific white-sided dolphins are highly social, often engaging in synchronized leaps, spins, and somersaults. As integral members of the marine ecosystem, Pacific white-sided dolphins serve as indicators of ocean health, their presence signalling the abundance and vitality of the area.

pacific white sided dolphin
sea otter

Sea Otters

Sea otters are a tour fan-favourite! Sea Otters often reside in groups, called ‘rafts’, and are known to link paws in order to remain together. We often see rafts while kayaking outside of Telegraph Cove.

Harbour Seals

You’ll often find them lounging on rocky outcrops or bobbing playfully in the waves with their big eyes peeking out to say hello. These social creatures love hanging out in small groups, catching fish, and basking in the sun. It’s common to see them while paddling, as many like to hang out outside Telegraph Cove!

seals in telegraph cove
sunflower star

Countless other marine wonders!

As you kayak, keep your eyes peeled at all times! Our region is one of the most biodiverse in the world and home to wonderful marine creatures of all sizes. Check both the horizon and under your kayak, you won’t be disappointed!