Photo Essay: Unexpected Wildlife Sightings In Tofino, British Columbia

Last Updated on December 1, 2020

On our boat ride to Hot Springs Cove, 26 nautical miles from Tofino in beautiful British Columbia, we were lucky to witness some unexpected wildlife sightings. We had so many photos from the whole experience, we figured we would feature the wildlife in their own post.

Though we did not end up seeing any bears near the shore, we were able to spot grey whales on the way to the Hot Springs and back;  it was magical! The second spotting gave us an incredible view.

Another favourite sight was when we saw a sea otter just chilling in the ocean, floating away on his back with the movement of the water, in all the kelp. Both were quite the sights to see. Since we were not on a wildlife tour specifically searching them out, the unexpected wildlife sightings were a great addition to our tour.

We really got a lot more than we expected out of the Hot Springs Cove experience. The rainforest walk to the Hot Springs, being in such beauty at Hot Springs Cove and seeing all the wildlife really provided a fantastic trip.

Take a look at some of the great photos we were able to get:


Grey Whales

Unexpected Wildlife Sightings in Tofino Unexpected Wildlife Sightings in Tofino Unexpected Wildlife Sightings in Tofino Unexpected Wildlife Sightings in Tofino Unexpected Wildlife Sightings in Tofino Unexpected Wildlife Sightings in Tofino Unexpected Wildlife Sightings in Tofino

We also found it interesting to learn that Grey Whales are bottom feeders, so they don’t breech like an Orca Whale does. Most the time they will just surface momentarily. Our guide, Tim, mentioned that the young ones can be a little more lively, but what you see above is usually the most you’ll see of a Grey Whale. I could tell where the Grey Whale was surfacing first from the blowing; the Grey Whale even has two blowholes!

You’ll also notice from the photos that Grey Whales are often covered with parasites and other organisms, which causes their skin to look discoloured and much like a crusty ocean rock.

The only known natural predators to the Grey Whale is a pod of Killer Whales, or occasional attacks by whale poachers and hunters.

Sea Otter

Unexpected Wildlife Sightings in Tofino
Small Sea Otter populations inhabit kelp forests, bays and coastal waters near islands, reefs, and fjords in the North Pacific Ocean. In British Columbia, they are found along the windswept West Coast of Vancouver Island and the Central Coast, near Bella Bella.

During the 1700s and 1800s, Sea Otters were hunted to extinction along the BC Coast since the coastal habitat of Sea Otters made them easy targets for fur traders. The current BC Sea Otters are descendants of 89 Alaskan Sea Otters that were relocated to the West Coast of Vancouver Island from 1969-72.

Sea Otters sure are cute; it is great they were able to be brought out of extinction along the BC Coast. This Sea Otter looked so relaxed just chilling as it floated along in the water with the movement of the water.


Read Next: Hot Springs Cove And Wildlife In British Columbia’s Tofino


Have you ever had any great unexpected sights of wildlife? Where?



Disclaimer: Our Hot Springs experience was sponsored in-part by The Whale Centre in Tofino, BC, but as always, our opinions are our own.