There’s whale watching and then there’s beluga whale watching. Churchill, Manitoba is well known for polar bear viewing, but the beluga whales may just be the region’s stars.
Beluga whale watching in Churchill is unlike other wildlife adventures because you have such a great change of setting your eyes upon these white wonders. Chances are also great that you will hear them (they sing), and you may even get close enough to reach out and touch one (but don’t).
Yep, a visit during “beluga season” throughout the summer months of July and August, offers an unparalleled ability to get up, close and personal with this docile species.
Introduction to Beluga Whale Watching
Each year, thousands of whales make their way to the chilly waters of the Hudson Bay’s Churchill River, to birth calves. It’s truly a natural phenomenon to witness.
Beluga whales are calm natured and interactive. They are not only easy to spot but often will come to you as they are tremendously and reciprocally curious. They might even get close enough for you to see their famous one-eyed, sideways stare – thanks to bendable necks, which are unique to the species.
So, get ready to sputter out about a zillion ooh’s and ahh’s. While riding the waves looking for them, it is likely your head will bob from side-to-side as you follow directional shouts like “one ‘o’clock,” “straight ahead,” and “under the boat!”
Here are the four of the best ways to go beluga whale watching when visiting Churchill.
Beluga Whale Watching: What You Need to Know
1. Go Waterside
Set your gaze on the Hudson Bay. That’s all you have to do really. Whether it is along the shore or driving in a car, beluga spotting is just that easy in Churchill. The advantage of looking from the distance? It will allow you to take in the larger scope and actually see masses at once. Keep your eyes peeled for what may look like a backward whitecap.
2. Above the water
Zipping along a zodiac or boat while cruising the Churchill River is a great way to cover a lot of space in little time. It also ensures pretty high odds of running into numerous pods. Lull them boat-side with a soft hum or song – they really do react to voices. Once they appear, they tend to stick around to put on a show, so make sure you have your camera ready.
3. On the Water
Kayaking with the belugas can be truly magical. If they appear, it’s a serene and up-close experience. You will hear them spout as they break the surface around you. And then it will happen – you will spot them boat side, feel them swim underneath, or witness them breach in front of your boat.
4. Under the Water
If you are the type that is adventurous and keen to get the closer, then definitely find an outfitter who offers the ability to snorkel with the belugas. There is nothing like hopping in and swimming alongside the magnificent whales. Listen closely for their high-pitched sonar songs (and sing back). Tote your underwater camera for when they come by to say hello or simply take in this unreal wildlife experience that is sure to leave you astounded.
Beluga Whale Watching: Responsible Tourism
Participate in responsible tourism. Please remember that beluga whales are wild animals. Choose a tour operator that puts these animals before tourist experiences. Never touch a beluga whale, even if they come close to you. Respect the whales and leave Churchill and its surrounding waters untouched by your presence.
Outfitters offering beluga whale watching in Churchill*:
*Tour operators mentioned in this article have not been vetted by Skyscanner. Please do your research before booking an operator or tour guide.