Telegraph Cove’s pioneering whale-watching company is adrift after 38 years – Campbell River Mirror

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British Columbia’s first whale watching business, Stubbs Island Whale Watching, is closing after 38 years in business.

Renowned for its ethical wildlife viewing, education and conservation, the Telegraph Cove Society has welcomed nearly half a million visitors to the North Island Experience since its inception in 1980.

“We have enjoyed sharing the unique experience of seeing whales in the wild with visitors from around the world,” Heike Wieske, president of Stubbs Island Whale Watching, said in a press release. “It is with heavy hearts that we are forced to cancel our 2019 season.”

The closure comes following an unexpected change in the company’s office space lease agreement with Telegraph Cove Resort after more than three decades of operating from that location. The rental agreement will end on January 31. Stubbs Island Whale Watching was put up for sale at the end of the 2018 season, but Wieske, along with co-owners Geord Dunstan and Roger McDonell, planned to continue operating the business until a buyer was found. The changes to the rental agreement came as a surprise.

“Our 2018 season was our best yet and we saw significant growth in early pre-bookings for 2019,” Wieske said. “We are working to notify all of our booked guests as soon as possible.”

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Stubbs Island’s announcement today was quickly followed by an announcement by Telegraph Cove Resort that it was partnering with Victoria-based Prince of Whales Whale & Marine Wildlife Adventures “to improve habitat and research of marine wildlife while providing greater opportunities for exceptional ecotourism”.

Resort owners Gordie and Marilyn Graham said they were thrilled to welcome one of the province’s “largest and most respected whale watching and eco-adventure businesses” to their haven. beachfront recreation. The release made no mention of their relationship with Stubbs Island.

“I have always been impressed with the work of the Prince of Whales in marine conservation and academic research,” Gordie said. “Their principled approach aligns perfectly with our ongoing efforts to protect marine wildlife while delighting and educating visitors with awe-inspiring nature experiences.”

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The Grahams established a campground and marina at Telegraph Cove in 1979, attracting enthusiasts to deep sea recreational fishing. For 40 years, their work restoring the original buildings for tourist accommodation has brought life back to the old sawmill town. Today the complex, which seats up to 500 people, also includes a restaurant and pub, a general store, a small hotel and the Telegraph Cove Whale Interpretation Centre.

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Telegraph Cove, one of the newest boardwalk settlements on Vancouver Island, attracts thousands of whale watchers, anglers, boaters, campers and kayakers each year.

In addition to building a tourist mecca 210 km northwest of Campbell River, the Grahams have invested in protecting and educating marine life, donating more than $150,000 to community improvement projects. Salmon.

Meanwhile, Stubbs Island Whale Watching is notifying reservation holders of the change and is attempting to transfer reservations to Discovery Marine Safaris in Campbell River, a small business owned by one of Stubbs Island Whale Watching’s three owners. Customers seeking information can call: 1-250-928-3185

Stubbs Island Charters Ltd. started whale watching in 1980 at Telegraph Cove and worked to establish a reputation as a business that puts wildlife first. The company supported research and education efforts, providing meaningful guest education, modeling best practices, and sharing expertise to help build a community now known as the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association. For the past six years, it has received a “Certificate of Excellence” from Trip Advisor for its many five-star reviews.

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