Marine Wildlife To Watch For On Your Visit to Sointula Lodge

If fishing isn’t your idea of the perfect getaway or you just want to experience more of the vibrant wildlife that British Columbia has to offer, a wilderness tour is a great choice.

Thanks to Sund’s Lodge’s scenic location, our tours take you through some of the most concentrated areas for marine wildlife in the region. Our guides are experienced and practiced. They know the locations and patterns that the local wildlife favor. They’ll help you spot marine creatures and learn how to observe them from a safe distance.

Whether you already have a wilderness tour booked or are hoping to catch sight of some wildlife while casting a line, keep reading to learn some of the marine creatures you just might spot during a tour.

Humpback Whale

There was a time when scientists thought that the Humpback Whale would disappear from the waters of British Columbia forever. But today, their numbers are growing, making sightings of this majestic species more and more common.

The Humpback Whale can grow up to 62 feet in length and weigh more than 40 tons. They tend to keep near coastlines where they feed on krill, small fish, and plankton. Humpbacks are known for their majestic leaps, propelling themselves out of the water with their large tail fins and causing an equally massive splash. Even if you don’t get to see a leap, you might catch a glimpse of these graceful creatures slapping the surface with their tail before they slip back under the surface.

Minke Whale

The smallest of the baleen whale species, the Minke Whale is a rare but special sight in British Columbia. Because they stay near the surface only to take one or two sharp breaths, you’ll need a sharp eye to spot the small dorsal fin before it dives back down, usually staying underwater for 10 minutes or more and traveling a large distance in between breaches.

Like the Humpback, Minke Whales also feed on small fish and krill. They can reach up to 33 feet in length when fully grown. While uncommon, there have been instances of curious Minke Whales coming close to boats.

Grey Whale

Perhaps even more rare than the Minke is the Gray Whale. The eastern population of Grey Whales breed in the waters off the coast of Baja California, Mexico, then spend their summers in the Bering, Beaufort, and Chukchi Seas, passing through British Columbia waters on their way back and forth.

Reaching up to 45 feet in length, the Grey Whale is distinctive for its lack of a dorsal fin. Unlike Humpback Whales, Grey Whales do not breach. Instead, you may see their backs rise from the surface of the water, giving rise to the nickname “breathing rocks.” Occasionally, you might spot a pectoral fin or tail fluke rising out of the water as these massive animals turn.


While commonly mistaken for a species of whale, especially given their nickname “killer whales,” Orcas are actually the largest of the dolphin species. This powerful predator is easy to spot with its black body with white markings. Preferring cold waters, Orca are often found in pods, with family groups are known to reach as many as 40 members. 

Like the Humpback Whale, Orcas are known for their incredible breaches. Scientists aren’t certain why these breaches occur, though many believe that it could be a form of communication, a way to shake parasites off their skin, or even just for fun.

Pacific White-Sided Dolphins

The Pacific White-Sided Dolphin is an exciting sight in the region. Usually traveling in pods, they are often found in groups of 50 to 100 dolphins. Social and curious, these animals may approach vessels and often play in the wake of our fishing and wilderness tour boats!

Male Pacific White-Sided Dolphins may reach up to 8 feet in length and weigh as much as 440 pounds, while females are slightly smaller, reaching 7.5 feet and weighing in at 330 pounds. 


While they look similar to dolphins, porpoises are another species of cetaceans entirely. Far shyer than their distant cousins, porpoises often disappear when boats get close. In fact, it’s more common to hear the “puff” caused by their quick breaths than it is to catch sight of them.

Smaller than dolphins, porpoises reach a maximum length of 6 feet and weigh less than 100 pounds when fully grown. They are also found in much smaller groups, with families of 3 or 4 hunting and traveling together.

Seals and Sea Lions

Like dolphins, seals and sea lions are another popular, common sight on our tours. Whether they’re zipping through the water chasing herring and salmon or sunning themselves on rocks and beaches, these creatures are noisy, plentiful, and easy-to-spot. 

While both are pinnipeds, seals and sea lions vary in appearance and personality. Seals have short front feet and thinly webbed flippers that are much smaller than those of their cousins. They also lack flaps covering their ears. Quieter than their counterparts, seals are known for gliding quickly and gracefully through the water, being better adapted for life in the sea.

Sea lions are not only larger, but also noisier than seals. With longer front flippers, these creatures are known for “walking” on land and spend much of their time lounging onshore. More social as well, sea lions have been known to congregate in groups of as many as 1,500 individuals.

Sea Otters

More than 6,000 sea otters call British Columbia home, thriving in the kelp forests, bays, and coastal waters off the shores of islands like Malcolm Island. Known for floating on their backs, you might spot these playful creatures eating, sleeping, or grooming themselves in this position. Unlike river otters that are mostly solitary, sea otters are often found in large groups. 

Smart creatures, sea otters use rocks to crush hard-shelled food like clams. They use their specially adapted front paws to search for food on the ocean floor. Unlike many other marine mammals, they lack body fat to keep them warm and insulated. Instead, their fur helps with that. They also require a lot of food to fuel their bodies and keep their body temperatures consistent.

Book Your Wilderness Tour Today

Are you dreaming of spotting some of these marine creatures in their natural habitats? One of our wilderness tours is a great place to start. With the perfect location and experienced guides at the ready, we can help you capture incredible photos or just enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Book your wilderness tour or fishing excursion today!


Related to Sointula Lodge’s wilderness tour:

These Are the Fish Species You’ll Be Battling in the Inside Passage

What is The Great Bear Rainforest? Everything You Need to Know About This Unique Destination