National Geographic highlights Tofino as whale watching destination
Iconic publication recognizes west coast destination as local whale festival begins
National Geographic has named Tofino whale-watching as one of its best spring-trips for 2015.
The publication's "Best Spring Trips 2015" on-line article, says up to 20,000 gray whales pass by the waters off Tofino each year, and advises whale watchers to come prepared for the weather.
'It was like meeting a creature out of time and space- Whale watching guide Kati Martini
While viewing opportunities are numerous, it says tourists should "bring a tuque" as "it can get cold, wet, and windy on whale-watching tours."
It's meant to celebrate returning gray whales as they migrate along the coast, something that remains a marvel for Kati Martini, who has operated a whale-watching company for more than two decades.
"It was like meeting a creature out of time and space," said Martini of her first encounter with a gray whale.
"There's just a connection that happens, a respect, and an appreciation for a creature that knows its environment so well."
The festival begins today with a parade of floats decorated by locals that will run through Tofino.
The celebration continues until Mar. 22 with scientific panels on whale conservation but also a chowder cook-off to end the festival.
Whale advocates like Martini say being recognized by National Geographic is thrilling.
"It recognizes that Tofino as a destination has a lot to offer. But especially, that one of the highlights is to experience wild whales in their natural environment."
with files from the CBC's Chantal Bellrichard