Herring season is giving people on the mid-island a front-row seat to a seaside spectacle.

A large pod of at least 20 orcas was spotted off Campbell River, heading south for lunch on Tuesday.

"I think this is the largest gang we've seen come through this spring, yeah," said Nick Templeman of Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions.

The whales are transients likely heading back toward the herring run near Hornby and Denman islands, but not to snack on the fish.

The killer whales are focusing their hunt on sea lions out looking for the herring, according to Templeman.

"The transients are the mammal-hunting killer whales, so it seems like some of this group was down Denman Island about a week ago," he said. "Maybe they've come up and done a loop this way."

Templeman and other tour guides are getting inquiries from visitors anxious to see the action out on the sea, and say there have been increased orca and humpback whale viewings from land.

He runs the Facebook group Vancouver Island Cetacean Sightings, which members can post images and sighting information to, while the Wild Ocean Whale Society group is also proving to be a hub for orca-related chatter.

"We get many reports coming in from people that are just walking down, for example, along the seawalk and they just happen to see something out there," said Susan MacKay, founder of Wild Ocean Whale Society.

Walker said the main focus of the group is to educate the public about the fact that orcas live in our backyards, and to raise awareness on how people can view them while maintaining good ecological stewardship.