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A year of whales: The most thrilling and majestic sightings in B.C.

The magnificent mammals wowed onlookers and made for picture-perfect moments.

Every year in B.C., there's never a shortage of whale stories in the headlines. 

2023 was no exception.

We've rounded up some of our most popular stories. 

'I got lucky with this one': B.C. photographer captures breathtaking whale image

Campbell River man Ryan Miller shared a composition delight of a photograph with the world. The stunning photo features a whale spy hopping with two orcas on either side. 

The image was taken near Qualicum Bay. Miller says he got lucky with the timing.

Humpbacks off Vancouver Island feature in new season of Planet Earth

Jackie Hildering, a researcher at Marine Education and Research Society in Port McNeill, worked with a crew from BBC’s Planet Earth III to capture footage of humpback whales in Blackfish Sound, just off the coast of Vancouver Island near Telegraph Cove.

The BBC crew spent long days on the water in a 17-foot boat. 

The humpback footage is part of a story that explores the relationship between wildlife and humans and how animals are adapting to people encroaching on their space. It's featured in Episode 7 of Planet Earth’s third season.

The legendary David Attenborough, “the voice of god,” will narrate. 

Killer whale shows off his prey for photographer off B.C. island

To one B.C. photographer's surprise, a transient killer whale popped up right beside his boat with a seal in its mouth. Kali Wexler captured the seal and the spy-hopping moment off Hornby Island. 

"You can actually see in some of the images, its teeth and it's biting into the seal. So it was holding on quite well,” he says. 

The killer whale in the photograph is known as Jack. It wasn't the first time he’d shown off his prey. 

Orca and deer spotted swimming together near U.S.-Canada border

Sam Murphy, a naturalist with Island Adventures Whale Watching, was photographing an orca swimming near the Canada-United States border when she captured a strange sight: a deer with its head bobbing out of the water photobombing a passing orca.

Photographer searching for strangers in spectacular orca photo

A photographer found three strangers after he captured a picture-perfect image of an orca right in front of them on Vancouver Island. 

Iwan Lewylle was guiding an eco-tour with Nature Trek in September. He was on a boat near Oak Bay Marina when the action started: a whale spy hopping in front of a small crowd. 

With the power of social media, he was able to identify everyone in the photograph 

Massive humpback whale photographed breaching into the air in B.C.

Martin Ryer, from Courtenay, was hoping to photograph whales on June 18 when he went touring with Wild Waterways Adventures. Not only did he encounter whales multiple times, but he was also in the right spot at the right time. 

Within the first 45 minutes of the tour, the group encountered three humpback whales.

The professional photographer was ready for the moment, which he deemed "a humpback party." He was able to capture the massive whale airborne.

Whale-watchers horrified after humpback nearly struck by speeding boat

A boater was captured speeding dangerously close to a humpback whale near Campbell River in June.

Jenefer Smalley watched the boater come within a few metres of the mammal. She decided to take photographs of the individual and reported them.

At the last moment, the humpback — later identified as three-year-old Tutu — took a sudden dive. What looked like a sure collision was narrowly avoided.

'Closest sighting': Orcas swim right beside B.C. island, feet from people on shore

A pod of orcas decided to swim very close to a B.C. Gulf Island in August, giving onlookers a surprise that will stay with them for a lifetime. 

Video shows the whales surfacing right beside Malaspina Point before diving back down, about three feet from the shore. 

Sean MacConnachie, the head of Aquatic Ecosystems and Marine Mammal Science at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, believes the whales are Bigg's killer whales.

It appears they were foraging for food. 

'It was very cool': Orca breaching mid-air captured on camera near Powell River

Retiree Michelle Pennell lives across from the ocean and is always watching for blows and fins coming from the water.

The Powell River photographer captured a special moment when an orca fully breached in May 2023.