Jilann, one of the masterminds behind Nanaimo’s latest venture, Vancouver Island Whale Watch, is one half of a tour de force duo, coming into the Nanaimo travel landscape with a goal to provide the best in sustainable whale watching. The company’s launchpad is Nanaimo’s downtown harbour, making it easy for travellers to walk aboard and get out on the water. We sat down with her to learn about how the company got started, why she loves Nanaimo, and what to expect.

Give us the low down. What do travellers to Nanaimo need to know about Vancouver Island Whale Watch?

We’re Nanaimo’s first whale watching company, offering sustainable whale watching tours daily from April through October. We offer a world class whale watching experience with a focus on conservation and sustainability. Whale sightings are GUARANTEED, or your next trip is free!

What prompted the idea to get started in whale watching?

My background is marine science, and I’ve had the opportunity to study orca, humpbacks, fin whales, and sperm whales from BC to Alaska. I find great satisfaction in sharing BC’s coastal wildlife with others, and believe that experiencing whales first-hand inspires ambassadors for this incredible coast!

Can we dispel some myths about whale watching in Nanaimo? Some folks are surprised that the Harbour City has whales.

Although Vancouver Island Whale Watch is a new company, I have been a part of BC’s whale watching industry for almost a decade. Over the past three years, most of the whales sighted in southern BC have been spotted in the waters surrounding Nanaimo. The Salish Sea is home to a thriving population of Transient (mammal-eating) orca, which make up most of our sightings. And the humpback whales are making a comeback, too! In fact BC’s humpback whale population has been steadily growing for several decades.

Do you have a favourite species of whale?

Transient orca are mammal-eating predators at the top of the marine food chain, and they are exceptional hunters! Family members collaborate to capture seals, sea lions, and porpoises. These whales experience their surroundings much differently than we do. While humans rely heavily on vision, orca are acoustic animals. Recognized as the ‘wolves of the sea’, the ocean truly is their kingdom. They use sound, including squeaks, squeals and clicks (called “echolocation”) to navigate, locate their prey, and communicate. With brains 4 times the size of ours, their hearing and emotional capabilities are far beyond our comprehension. They can navigate seamlessly in a near gravity-free environment using echolocation, vocalizations, and information passed down through their maternal family line. In fact, some orca stay with their mothers for their entire lives.

What other wildlife do you see when out on the water?


There’s a ton of coastal wildlife out there! While every tour is different, other than whales we often see Harbour and Dall’s porpoises, Steller sea lions, harbour seals, bald eagles, and pelagic cormorants.

When can folks start booking with you?

Those wishing to see some whales with us and make a booking anytime on our website www.vancouverislandwhalewatch.com, or by giving us a call at 250-667-5177. Be sure to book your seat in advance, as we are unable to guarantee seats for last minute walk-ins. Our first tour is scheduled for April 1st, and we’ll be offering tours daily until the end of October.

Want to see some whales? Book your next whale watching tour at VancouverIslandWhaleWatch.com!