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Spot The Critter: A guide to lesser known facts about Vancouver Island’s wildlife

We’ve compiled some wildlife fun facts to prep you for your travels to the Island, to dispel a few myths and to make you sound like a wildlife pro!

Did you know these Vancouver Island wildlife fun facts

Dolphins & porpoises: that’s right, we’ve got them both. The waters off Vancouver Island are home to Dall’s Porpoises and Pacific white-sided dolphins. How do you tell them apart? The dolphins stay true to the classic image we think of for dolphins: impressive leaps out of the ocean, curved like a crescent moon. They travel in larger groups, whereas the Dall’s Porpoise tend to be more exclusive in their travels. If you think you’ve spotted a small orca, it might be a Dall’s Porpoise, as they have black and white markings too. Let’s not forget about the harbour porpoise, who are shy, fast, deep divers.

The Roosevelt Elk: the velvety antlers of these large Island residents are spotted in the North Island, where they snack on leafy greens and shoots. If this is a major must-see for you, you’re in luck: the majority of the population of Roosevelt Elk in BC live on Vancouver Island.

Let’s talk bears: we often get questions about bears on Vancouver Island, especially around grizzlies. Vancouver Island is a big destination for grizzly watching, but did you know that there are no grizzly bears living on the Island? The tour operators leave from northern cities like Campbell River, Port McNeill, Port Hardy and Telegraph Cove, and soar by boat over to inlets on the mainland. From there, they’ll look for the large bears combing the beach for a bite to eat. They may spot a grizzly, but they can also spot black bears, who live both on the Island and on the mainland.

Orca Identification: the holy grail of wildlife viewing, spotting an orca is often on the top of traveller’s bucket lists. One of the best parts of a whale watching tour is the identification. In a game of Where’s Waldo, the naturalists on board use the markings around and on the dorsal fin to identify the orcas. They’ll tell you its name and whether it’s a transient, resident, or offshore orca.

This just scrapes the surface of Vancouver Island’s wildlife landscape, so if you’re eager to keep learning we recommend booking a wildlife tour!