'It was like National Geographic came to life': Incredible footage captures orcas off B.C. coast
VICTORIA -- Brittney Johnstone wanted to do something special for her mom on Mother’s Day.
"So I decided to take my mom on our first whale watching tour together," said Johnstone. "We went out there, it was cold so we got all suited up in the big suits."
After about 45 minutes cruising the waters off Vancouver Island, there was not one whale to be seen.
"I’m thinking, 'OK, we might not see one, that’s OK," said Johnstone.
Then their luck changed.
"So all of a sudden, a bunch of them," said Johnstone. "So it looks like we came into two to three pods."
Multiple pods of transient orcas were swimming off in the distance of the Haro Strait near Discovery Island.
"And that’s when it all started," said the ecstatic whale watcher.
The captain turned off the boat's motor and stayed at a safe distance away from the multiple pods.
"In this situation, when the whales started coming towards the vessel, the captain then shuts down and just lets the whales do what they want to do," said Rachael Merrett of Orca Spirit Adventures. "In this case it was a drive-by."
What happened next shocked everyone on board.
"It’s extremely rare to have whales come up and check out the boats," said Merrett.
That is exactly what happened, and fortunately one passenger had a GoPro camera, giving us the chance to see these curious majestic mammals up close.
"One stopped and looked right at that GoPro – and then yeah, they went right under the boat and just kind of stalled under there," said Johnstone. "It was wild."
The whales played, swam around the boat and visited. Some even breached, according to Johnstone, but that wasn’t caught on camera. After 45 minutes it was time for the tour to head back into Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
"I don’t know how to describe it," said Johnstone. "It was like National Geographic came to life right in front of me."
The encounter left her and her mother with an experience of a lifetime.
"A Mother’s Day to remember," said Johnstone. "I highly recommend it."