Untitled Document


Journey to the Beluga Whale Capital – Town of Churchill, Canada
July 2007
Being white all through, the adorable belugas measuring 3-5 metres can be found in arctic and sub-arctic waters. If you want to have up-close-and personal contact with these mild and lovely creatures, the best place to go would be the Beluga Whale Capital – Town of Churchill in Manitoba, Canada.
beluga1 beluga2
beluga3 beluga4
beluga7 beluga8

Every summer from late June to August, thousands of belugas flock into Hudson Bay in Northern Canada when the thick arctic ice starts to melt. They come for the warm Churchill River and the delicacies in it. Some belugas give birth in the warm waters and let their newborn obtain more nutrients through lactation to get well prepared for their winter times back in the arctic. Belugas are similar to our Chinese white dolphins in a certain way. Their babies were born grey and gradually turn milky white as they grow.
Baby beluga in dark grey

Like most cetaceans, belugas of Churchill are fond of following boats to kill time. If riding on a slightly bumpy zodiac is not a problem for you, you will soon find a few curious belugas coming over, swim by the side of the boat and look into your eyes. They sometimes overtake the boat with a few tail slaps and sometimes lag behind and stay next to the engine, accompanying you all the way back to the pier. You can also choose to swim or kayak with belugas there, though it is quite costly. It still takes some courage to jump into the subarctic Churchill waters even in summer.
Belugas are fond of following zodiacs
beluga5 beluga9

Belugas are called sea canaries. As most of the beluga watching boats there are equipped with hydrophones, you can hear them chat and sing underwater.

Apart from the precious belugas, you may have a chance to see wild polar bears I summer time if you are lucky enough. I had met two polar bears during my trip and see their footprint on the beach! Of course, the best time to see polar bears there is late autumn or early winter when Hudson Bay starts to freeze.
We met the polar bears for three times in our ecotours
polarbear1 polarbear3

footprint canada_bear
A polar bear’s footprint on the beach Polar bear’s jail – polar bears that get near to the town will be put in jail so that they can learn not to get close to the town next time.

The remote town of Churchill is a quiet small place with a population of merely more than 800. It is only accessible by plane or train from Winnipeg. It takes more than two hours by flight. If you take the train, you need to get on it in the evening and sleep on the train for two nights before you can get there.

Vancouver Island, West coast of Canada
Apart from Churchill which is quite remote for most people, quite a lot of whale watching hot spots can be found on Vancouver Island off Vancouver, including Tofino and Victoria. During my visit, I encountered a Humpback whale and a Gray whale at Tofino and the resident Orcas at Victoria.
Grey Whale at Tofino
greywhale1 greywhale2
Humpback whale at Tofino
greywhale1 canada_whale
Orca at Victoria
orca1 orca2

Churchill: SeaNorth Tour
Town of Churchill Website:

Tofino: Tofino Whale Centre
(it was quite chilly on the boat and there was no shelter at all)

Victoria: Prince of Whales
(I could only join once as the morning tour was cancelled due to undersubscription)