There is whale watching and then there is beluga whale watching.
A visit to Churchill offers an unparalleled ability to get close to the docile species during the summer months of July and August. A natural phenomenon to witness, each year thousands of whales make their way to the chilly waters of the Hudson Bay’s Churchill River, to birth their calves.
Calm natured and interactive, the white wonders are not only easy to spot but often will come to you, revealing reciprocal curiosity. They will be close enough for you to see their famous one-eyed, sideways stare – thanks to bendable necks, unique to the species.
Get ready to sputter out a blitz of oohs and ahhs. And like a good tennis match, 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 top ways to spot the canaries of the sea:
1. Above the water
Hop in a zodiac or boat and cruise the Churchill River. This makes the task easy with high odds of running into numerous pods. Once the belugas appear, they tend to stick around to put on a show, so have your camera ready.
2. On the water
Kayaking offers a serene and up-close experience alongside the belugas. Hear them spout as they break the surface around you. Then it will happen – you will spot them boat side, feel them swim underneath, or witness them spyhop in front of your boat.
3. Under the water
Adventurous and keen to get even closer? Hop in and snorkel with them. Listen closely as you hear their virtual symphony of sounds, and lull them to you with a high-pitched song. Yes, you can sing underwater!
Whether it is along the shore or driving in a car, beluga spotting is as easy as fixing your gaze on the Hudson Bay. This way will allow you to take in the larger scape, seeing masses at once. Just look for the backward whitecaps.