Welcome to Canada, the land of natural wonders and diverse wildlife. As an outdoor enthusiast and a photography enthusiast, you must have heard of the incredible opportunities Canada offers to photograph whales.
Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, you’ll be amazed by the variety of whale species you can spot here and the stunning landscapes that will serve as the perfect background for your shots.
In this article, I’ll take you on a journey to discover the best places in Canada to photograph whales and a few tips and tricks to help you along your adventure.
Table of Contents
- Best Places in Canada to Photograph Whales
- How to Get There
- Tour or Free from Shore
- Types of Whales in Each Location
- Best Times of the Year
- Types of Equipment to Use
Best Places in Canada to Photograph Whales
Canada is home to several species of whales that can be spotted in different regions of the country. Here are some of the best places to photograph whales in Canada:
- British Columbia: The west coast of British Columbia is known for its population of humpback whales, killer whales, and gray whales. The best places to spot these whales include Johnstone Strait, Broughton Archipelago, the Great Bear Rainforest, and around the gulf islands.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: The east coast of Canada is a hot spot for photographing humpback and minke whales. The best places to spot these whales include the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, Bonavista Bay, and Gander Bay.
- Quebec: The St. Lawrence River is home to a variety of whale species, including the beluga, blue, and fin whales. The best places to spot these whales include the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve and the Tadoussac area.
How to Get There
Getting to the best places to photograph whales in Canada does have varying levels of difficulty. Some areas are more readily serviced by mass transportation than other areas. .
If you’re travelling to British Columbia, you can fly into Vancouver International Airport and then take a bus or a rental car to the different whale-watching locations. However, the best whale-watching locations in the area are going to be off of Vancouver Island, which would require at least an extra ferry or plan flight to Victoria.
If you’re traveling to Newfoundland and Labrador, you can fly into St. John’s International Airport and then take a bus or a rental car to the different whale-watching locations. However, note that you will probably have to consider a connecting flight through a major flight hub.
If you’re planning on watching whales in Quebec, you can fly into Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport and then take a bus or a rental car to the different whale-watching locations.
Paid Tour or Free from Shore
When it comes to photographing whales in Canada, you have the option to go on a tour or to see them for free from the shore.
Going on a tour is a great option if you want a guaranteed sighting of whales and the opportunity to get up close to the whales. However, it can be a bit more expensive than seeing them for free from the shore.
If you choose to see the whales for free from the shore, you may have to put in a bit more effort to find them. Keep in mind that many people live in places like Vancouver Island their entire life and never see the whales. Sometimes it’s a question of where you are on the island. For example, in 2023 there were repeated sightings of humpback whales in Port Alice, BC. That’s not a particularly popular area of Vancouver Island. However, if you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, this can be a rewarding and budget-friendly option.
Types of Whales in Each Location
We may have mentioned them before, but let’s summarize the types of whales that you can spot in Canada by location.
- In British Columbia, you can spot humpback whales, killer whales, and gray whales.
- In Newfoundland and Labrador, you can spot humpback and minke whales.
- In Quebec, you can spot beluga, blue, and fin whales.
Best Times of the Year
The best times of the year to photograph whales in Canada vary depending on the location and species.
In British Columbia, the best time to spot humpback whales is from April to October, while the best time to spot killer and gray whales is from May to September.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the best time to spot humpbacks and minke whales are from June to September.
In Quebec, the best time to spot beluga whales is from June to August, while the best time to spot blue and fin whales is from July to September.
Types of Equipment to Use
When it comes to photographing whales, the right equipment can make a big difference. The type of equipment you need will depend on the type of photography you want to do. For long-distance shots, a telephoto lens with a focal length of at least 300mm is recommended.
For close-up shots, a wide-angle lens with a focal length of at least 10mm is recommended. It’s also important to have a sturdy tripod to keep your camera steady and a waterproof camera cover to protect your equipment from the elements.
Safety and Ethical Considerations
When photographing whales, it is essential to always prioritize the safety and well-being of the animals. Always follow the guidelines and regulations set by tour operators and national parks to ensure that you don’t interfere with the natural behavior of the whales.
It’s important to keep a safe distance from the whales and not to chase or pursue them. It’s also critical to avoid using flash photography as it can disturb the whales. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your photography experience is safe for both you and the whales.
Weather and Climate
The weather and climate can greatly affect your photography experience. It’s ideal to check the forecast and plan accordingly.
- In British Columbia, the weather can be unpredictable and can change quickly, so it’s critical to bring warm and waterproof clothing.
- In Newfoundland and Labrador, the weather can be cool and damp, so it’s essential to bring warm clothing and a waterproof jacket.
- In Quebec, the weather can be warm and humid, so it’s recommended to bring lightweight clothing and plenty of sunscreen.
By being prepared for the weather, you can ensure that you’re comfortable and able to focus on photography.
Permits and Regulations
It’s important to be aware of and comply with all permits and regulations when photographing whales in Canada.
Some locations may require a permit to access certain areas or to engage in certain activities, such as taking close-up or aerial photos.
It’s also indispensable to be aware of and comply with any regulations related to the protection of marine wildlife. By obtaining the necessary permits and following the regulations, you can ensure that your photography experience is legal and ethical.
Canada is a photography paradise for those interested in capturing the beauty of whales in their natural habitat. Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, Canada offers a variety of opportunities to spot and photograph different species of whales, in different regions of the country, with tour and free options.
With the right planning, equipment, and timing, you can capture beautiful and unique images that will be treasured for years to come. So pack your gear, book your trip, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable photography adventure.