Shrouded in mystery for millennia, the creatures of the deep have both mystified and captivated the imagination of humankind. Up until the late 1960's and the early 1970's, viewing of marine mammals was restricted to ferry travelers, private boat owners, public Aquaria, or zoos. The capturing of whales in BC waters during the 1970's was a common practice and the demand for captured mammals (whales, otters, seals, etc.) was a prosperous business on the West Coast. Being the most naturally playful and intelligent whale, the orca (or killer whale) was the most desired mammal for large public aquatic venues.
In the mid-1980's, pressure from scientists, animal rights activists, and the general public (partially a direct result of Hollywood-style depictions of whales in captivity) turned what was widely perceived as acceptable 'training' of these highly intelligent creatures, at times under questionable circumstances, into strong apathy for them. Aquaria closed, or at least limited their orca exhibits, and a successful awareness and re-education program based on the natural wonder of these whales took on a dramatic new focus.
The local whale watching industry grew out of mutual desire, both by the scientific community and the public, to study and observe sea life as they truly exist; at peace and in their natural environment. Such demand has resulted in one of the most comprehensive, co-operative studies of whale movements and behaviours to date in southern BC and northwestern Washington State.