Vancouver Island in Canada is home to some truly spectacular wildlife and Telegraph Cove is without a doubt one of the best places to see it.
This remote coastal community lies on the Johnstone Strait, a deep blue channel that separates the 460-kilometre-long island from the British Columbia mainland.
Why Called Telegraph Cove?
1912 the town got its name when a telegraph company was looking to set up a telegraph station on Northern Vancouver Island, so quite simply, a telegraph station in a cove led to this tiny community being called, Telegraph Cove.
The cove was once a base for logging and fish canning. But in recent years it’s become a hub for eco tourism – and in particular, for whale watching.
Killer whales – or orcas as they are also known – are the star attraction and there’s a great chance of seeing them if you join a boat trip with Stubbs Island Whale Watching or a guided kayak tour into the Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve.
You can sometimes get surprisingly close to these magnificent creatures and I was lucky enough to see a group of four ‘transient’ orcas (which eat marine mammals rather than fish, which is the sole diet of ‘resident’ orcas).
The transient whales hunt as a unit, stalking their prey between offshore islands and occasionally leaping out of the water or shooting water into the air from their blow holes.
The reserve is named after Canadian marine biologist Michael Bigg, who undertook the first major research into killer whales in the 1970s. Bigg photographed the whales and identified individual animals through their unique markings.
Michael Bigg was born in London December 22, 1939 and moved to the west coast of Canada, aged 8. His father, newspaper publisher Andy Bigg, always accounted Michael’s early life experiences with nature as his start to his lifelong passion for wildlife.
The Canadian marine biologist is recognized as the founder of modern research on killer whales. With his colleagues, he developed new techniques for studying killer whales and conducted the first population census of the animals.
His work in wildlife photo-identification enabled the longitudinal study of individual killer whales, their travel patterns, and their social relationships in the wild, and revolutionized the study of cetaceans.
Michael Bigg died October 18, 1990.
Humpback Whale Facts
Humpback whales are also regularly sighted in this idyllic part of Canada, with a sighting of a tale fluke the prize for those who remain patient and wait until the humpbacks dive into the deep.
The humpback, is a species of Baleen whale. It is one of the larger rorqual species, with adults ranging in length from 12–16 mtr and weighing around 25–30 ton. The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with long pectoral fins and a knobbly head.
They can live from 45 – 50 years, with a Mass of 25,000 – 30,000 kg and gestation period of 11 months.
Dolphins in Vancouver
Dolphins are another local resident, moving in large pods of perhaps a few hundred. Like dolphins everywhere, the Vancouver Island dolphins love to leap, splash and surf in the wake as your ship cruises near them.
Dolphins can live up to 50 years and have strong family instincts, the young will stay with their mother for 3 – 8 years.
Did you know? Dolphins have two stomachs; one is for food storage and the other for digestion.
They are excellent divers, and can dive up to 1000 feet.
How many species of dolphin are there? There are around 40 different species of dolphin and they range from 3 – 4 feet right up to 30 feet and the most common species is the Bottlenose dolphin.
The wildlife here is truly amazing and although not mentioned previously, there are seals living here along the coast too and also Bald Eagles, who observe proceedings from tree tops and craggy ledges along the shoreline. It’s a truly breath-taking setting, with a calm sea and clear sky, enormous forests and snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Canadian nature at its very best. Telegraph Cove is also known as one of Canada’s most lovely places to visit.