Whether you’re visiting Sointula to stay at a British Columbia fishing lodge or for a leisurely getaway, one of the most popular activities to enjoy is wildlife spotting.
British Columbia is home to a wide variety of species, including in the water, on land, and in the air. Many make their homes in and around Malcolm Island.
From whales to birds to fish, keep reading to learn more about some of the wildlife you might spot during your next visit to Sointula.
For more than 300 years, beavers have been considered Canada’s national icon. Though once endangered because of their popularity in the fur trade, their numbers have rebounded in recent decades.
The beaver is the largest rodent in North America. They can weigh up to 70 pounds and reach a length of over 4 feet. Even if you don’t get lucky enough to spot a beaver, keep your eyes peeled for the tell-tale signs that one is near; namely, thin trees that have been chewed near the base, or the mounded burrows that they build along rivers, creeks, and lakes.
Bald eagles are another successful conservation story. While once-endangered throughout North America, massive efforts to protect the species and their habitat led to their removal from the endangered species list in the early 2000s.
While bald eagles are found throughout much of Canada, the majority of the country’s population resides near coastal British Columbia. Look for them perched on tree branches or dipping to the surface of the water in search of fish. Also, keep your eyes open for their oversized nests situated high up in trees and close to a water source.
Two different species of otters make their home in British Columbia; sea otters and river otters.
Sea otters are larger than their river otter cousins. They can reach up to 5 feet in length and weigh over a hundred bounds. They’re often photographed floating on their backs and are known for being curious. Sea otters spend the majority of their lives in the water, rarely coming onshore.
The river otters that call British Columbia home are Northern river otters. These animals are smaller, weigh between 11 and 22 pounds, and reach a length of up to 4 and a half feet. These otters spend part of their time in freshwater sources like rivers and lakes, and part on land. THey’ll forage for food both in the water and on shorelines, and build their dens on land.
Orcas are perhaps one of the most popular sightings for visitors to Sointula. Whether spotted from the Bere Point Campground, where you can see Sointula’s famous whale rubbing beach or from a boat, these creatures are an incredible sight.
While they’re often mistaken for whales, orcas are actually a species of dolphin. Easily identified for their black bodies, with white circles around their eyes, these fast-moving creatures hunt seals, fish, and other creatures. Despite their name, orcas aren’t a threat to humans; while there have been attacks from orcas in captivity, there has never been a reported attack on a human by a wild orca.
Another popular aquatic creature to spot in British Columbia is the humpback whale. This is the largest whale species that are commonly spotted in the region. This is the species that are often photographed with its tail fluke poking out about the surface of the water as they dive back down.
If you’re dreaming of spotting a humpback whale, plan to visit Sointula between April and late October, prime whale watching season in the region. Outside of those months, humpback whales, much like other whale species, head for warmer waters.
Experts estimate that there are more than 120,000 black bears in British Columbia, with a whopping 7,000 making their home on nearby Vancouver Island. This smaller bear species actually has 6 subspecies in British Columbia, though these can be tough for the average visitor to tell apart.
Black bears are often drawn to populated areas in search of food. But if you encounter a black bear during your visit, keep your distance and never attempt to feed or touch them.
Pacific salmon is a big part of what draws tourists to British Columbia and Malcolm Island. Fishing for this incredible species is a bucket list item for many fishermen and women. Not only are they a challenging fish to catch, but they’re also delicious for cooking up after your visit.
There are actually 5 different species of Pacific salmon. The largest is the Chinook, which can reach nearly 5 feet in length and weigh well over a hundred pounds. Sockeye Pacific salmon are easy to spot for their bright red-orange bodies and green heads, as well as their distinctive hooked jaws. The other Pacific salmon species are Coho, Chum, and Pink salmon.
Spotting Wildlife in Sointula
Ready to spot some of these incredible creatures for yourself? Start planning your next visit to Sointula today!