Our Captains and Deckhands/Naturalists
Captain Wayne Garton
“This will be my 20th season with Stubbs Island Whale Watching. I’m looking forward to seeing all the amazing wildlife activity within a 40 mile radius of Telegraph Cove. This is one of the most diverse ecosystems on the coast of British Columbia.”
Wayne is the senior Captain at Stubbs and brings a wealth of boating experience to the bridge with 25 years of service in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police much of that working the RCMP boats. Since coming to Telegraph Cove he has logged thousand of trips and is adamant that no two trips are the same which is one of the reasons he is always pumped about getting out on the water every day.
What ‘Lisa from London’ had to say about her trip with Captain Wayne. “The tour started with a very enthusiastic welcome from Wayne, who told us he has been working on boats for 40 years, and completely and utterly loves his job. Wayne and his assistant Alison clearly love whales and we were thrilled to see whales within 8 minutes of going out to the sea.” (source TripAdvisor review 2015/11/13)
What ‘Junelle from Washington State’ had to say about Captain Wayne. “In 2002 my elderly mom wanted to go whale watching after seeing a news article about the release of a rehabilitated orca, Springer. We found Telegraph Cove and Stubbs Island Whale Watching and for the next 7 years, until mom passed away at 100 yrs., we went back to repeat the trip. She sat up in the captain's cabin and enjoyed the banter with Captain Wayne.” (source TripAdvisor review 2015/10/10)
What ‘Peppercorn from UK’ had to say about Captain Wayne. “Awesome! It was a brilliant trip as we saw lots of orcas and humpbacks as well as bald eagles, Steller sea lions and sea otters. You could see them all very clearly and the knowledge that Captain Wayne shared with us was very interesting. Overall an amazing trip!” (source TripAdvisor review 2013/08/24)
Captain Geoff Dunstan
Returning for his 6th season with Stubbs Island Whale Watching. Geoff has been guiding in the waters around Vancouver Island since he was knee high to a grasshopper. Growing up in Campbell River, he started as a teenager working as a fishing guide at Painter’s Lodge. Not only is he an excellent Captain, but he knows how to swing a wrench and keeps the fleet in tip top shape as our chief engineer.
What ‘Catherine from England’ had to say about Captain Geoff. “We came from the UK having been on this tour 15 years ago (then minus the children) and it did not disappoint. We went out on the afternoon tour with Captain Geoff and Kyle. OMG, a pod of 12 orcas, including the males, Pointer, Blackney and Dent and the new calf from 2011. It was breathtaking seeing them all together swimming, tail slaps, wow ! Then onto hump back whales. On this trip we were so lucky ! We saw 7 hump backs, not all together, but even so, 7 !! The crew were just wonderful. Knowledgeable and so respectful towards the marine life. I promised myself 15 yrs ago I would come back and I am so glad that I did. Now my children have the bug too.” (source TripAdvisor review 2013/7/26)
What ‘Serge from the Netherlands’ had to say about Captain Geoff. “Our tour with Stubbs Island Whale Watching was great. First we met a small pod of orcas and followed them while they were cruising around, spy hopping and tail slapping. The tour ended with several humpback whales breaching around us. Thanks to the professional, knowledgeable and enthusiastic Captain Geoff and naturalist, we had a unforgettable time!” (source TripAdvisor review 2014/09/14)
Captain Roger McDonell
Returning for his 6th year in Telegraph Cove and 4th year as a Captain with Stubbs Island Whale Watching. Roger has been coming up to the North Island as a scuba diver since before the company was formed 35 years ago. At home on and under the water, his passion for photography is something he loves to share with our guests. Most of the images we use to promote our remarkable experience were taken by Captain Roger and he will share his tips on how you can get those picture postcard shots with your camera so you can show your friends and family when you return home. If you would like to see what’s underwater, ask the Captain to show you some of his videos on his iPad. He loves to share his enthusiasm for the local waters and you will be amazed at what’s down there.
What ‘Eleanor from British Columbia’ had to say about Captain Roger. “Went on September 3rd, Turned out to be a wonderful trip. Beautiful weather, a pod of about 18 Orcas and, on the way back we were surrounded by about a dozen hump back whales who have recently returned to the area. Have been on this trip about 5 times and this was the best yet Would recommend to anyone and everyone, kids included. Worth every nickel with Captain Roger.” (source TripAdvisor review 2015/09/11)
What ‘Natasja from Belgium’ had to say about Captain Roger. “We had a wonderfull trip with Captain Roger, very friendly and funny. You can feel that he really loves his job and he is a very good whale spotter. We saw a big humpback whale that came next to our boat. Also saw a group of orca's jumping in the water. A young biologist on board was telling us more about the whales. It was a trip we will never forget!” (source TripAdvisor review 2015/09/11)
Naturalist Jackie Hildering
Jackie is an award-winning marine educator who has been part of our team since 1999. Recognition of her work includes being the 2010 winner of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Murray A. Newman Award for Excellence in Aquatic Conservation. She taught biology and administered international schools in the Netherlands for 14 years and, since returning to BC, has also been the local Department of Fisheries and Oceans Education Coordinator, Communications Director for the SOS Marine Conservation Foundation and Community Liaison for the 'Namgis First Nations KUTTERA Closed Containment Salmon Farm. Witnessing the return of Humpback Whales to our area led Jackie to becoming a whale researcher and co-founding the Marine Education and Research Society. She is president of the local scuba diving club, educates as The Marine Detective and is a board member of the Canadian Network for Ocean Education (CaNOE). On-camera experience includes Animal Planet's “Wild Obsessions – The Great Whales”; the BBC production “New threat to Canada’s Pacific humpback whales?”; an episode of Knowledge Network’s “Head’s Up” children’s educational series; and the German documentary “Vancouver Island - Wild Beauty in the Pacific” (Vancouver Island - Wilde Schönheit im Pazifik by Christel Fomm of GRUPPE 5).
What 'Francis from Aukland, New Zealand' had to say about Jackie. "I got the last place available on the boat and I thought I was lucky. But boy, you don't know how lucky!! I spent the whole trip watching incredible animals: orcas, sea lions, humpback whales! Of course, you never know what is out there, but this was a great trip. The captain was very kind and enthusiastic and Jackie, the "on board" marine biology expert, the perfect teacher for such a trip. If you are in Telegraph Cove, don't miss this opportunity!! And remember: a hand for you and a hand for the boat ;-) (be careful when you go down those steps...)(if you get on board the Lukwa you will understand)" (Source Trip Advisor review 2015/08/23)
Head Naturalist Alison Ogilvie
“I’m very excited to be returning to Stubbs and the magnificent surrounding area for a fourth season. I grew up on Vancouver Island and got a degree in Biology from the University of Victoria. Since then, I’ve spent time on in Cape Cod Massachusetts helping monitor the North Atlantic Right Whale population and I contribute to Humpback Whale research through the Marine Education and Research Society based on Northern Vancouver Island. This past winter, my sister and I explored some of the Southern hemisphere, traveling to Australia and New Zealand. I’m happy to be back on the West coast and am looking forward to another fantastic season. “
What ‘Malekok from Denmark’ had to say about Alison. “North Vancouver Island is the place to go whale watching, and Stubbs Island Whale watching is the company to take you to the wildlife. I did 6 trips with Stubbs and all of them were different. I did not end up disappointed on any of them. Absolutely amazing! Captain Wayne and naturalist Alison greeted us on the dock, and made a short introduction to the wildlife we might encounter on the trip. Alison was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about everything we saw on the trips.” (Source TripAdvisor 2015/11/15)
What ‘Johan from Belgium’ had to say about Alison. “We took the afternoon tour on a sunny day. It does get quite cold once out of the harbour, so best to take warm clothing. We encountered seals, sea lions, bald eagles, a family of orca's and humpback whales. We got loads of interesting information from our very knowledgeable tour guide Alison and our youngest son enjoyed spending time in the steering cabin and watching all the tech stuff.” Not to be missed!” (Source TripAdvisor 2014/09/14)
What ‘Anne from The Netherlands’ had to say about Alison. “It was just amazing. We saw two pods of killer whales (swimming together), humpback whales (one with a calf!), Dall's Porpoises (bow riding!), Stellar sea lions, harbour seals and several bold eagles. Naturalist Alison was sweet, very enthusiastic and explained a lot. Together with captain Geoff she spotted many animals for us and made this afternoon unforgettable. I would definitely recommend this!” (Source TripAdvisor 2013/07/26)
Naturalist Carmen Pendleton
“I am excited to be returning for my 6th season as a naturalist with Stubbs! After starting work in the Johnstone Strait area in 2007, I have been back almost every year since. This past winter I continued studying Geography with a concentration in Coastal Studies at the University of Victoria and can’t wait to share some of the fun facts that I have learned with our guests.”
What ‘Leo from the United Kingdom’ had to say about Carmen. “I first visited Telegraph Cove and took a trip with Stubbs Island as a child and have always wanted to go back. The return trip didn't disappoint and we had 2 excellent trips on the Lukwa with crew Geoff and Carmen. We managed to see the A30 pod of orcas on both trips as well as Dall's porpoise and Pacific white-sided dolphins. The second trip was on a foggy still morning and the orcas were in a sleeping line which was great for photography. We then went in search of Humpbacks and managed to hear their blows before sighting the first one which was lunge feeding. At the end of the trip Carmen gave an excellent talk giving us more details about the wildlife that we'd seen as well as their environment. We can't wait to go again!” (source TripAdvisor 2015/09/03)
What ‘Stella from North Vancouver, Canada’ had to say about Carmen. “I lost count of the amount of humpback whale sightings, as they breached, fed and meandered their way along the archipelago. We were blessed with eagles, stellar sea-lions barking loud and throatily from the rocks and swimming amongst the floating islands of kelp and Dall's Porpoises coming to play speedily in the bow of our boat. Such a wondrous experience was enhanced by our very knowledgeable naturalist, Carmen, who patiently answered questions and shared her obvious love of these animals.” (Source TripAdvisor August 2015/08/31)
What ‘Robert from Calgary, Canada’ had to say about Carmen. “I travel a fair bit, and I like to find tours to take to view local wildlife and other area features. This is likely the best tour I've ever taken. Captain Wayne who runs the tour and captains the boat is knowledgeable, engaged and works hard to put you in proximity of whales, seals, bird life and other marine animals. Carmen, an environmental specialist, is on board and works hard to spot and identify wildlife for those onboard to enjoy. These two worked very hard for us and produced a simply superb tour. I'd go again and again. Simply marvellous.” (Source TripAdvisor 2013/07)
Naturalist Johanna Ferrie
"I am thrilled to be returning to Telegraph Cove for my second summer with Stubbs! I am originally a mountain girl from southeast BC but have always been drawn to the ocean. Despite this, I am doing my degree in Environmental Science and Biology at the University of Alberta, where I can race as a skier. I spent one semester abroad in Cuba studying coastal ecosystems, and one summer at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre to stay near the ocean. I can't wait to see what this summer in Telegraph Cove and Johnstone Strait has in store!"
What D. K. from Regina, Saskatchewan had to say about Johanna. “An amazing evening tour that exceeded our expectations. We were lucky enough to see humpback whales, seals, dolphins and 3 different pods of Orcas. Stubbs is very professional, Capt. Wayne was our skipper and knew all the right spots to find the whales. Johanna our biologist answered all our questions and was very knowledgable. The vessel was in great shape, plenty of room for all to move around and get the best view of the whales. Would highly recommend Stubbs to everyone.” (Source TripAdvisor 2015/08/01)
What ‘WolfCruise from Tofino, B.C. said about Johanna. “My goodness .. where to begin ... Stubbs Island Whale watch is instrumental in their approach to whale watching. To being gathered and de-briefed on the dock prior to boarding. Captain Wayne giving us the low down on the boat and her procedures, Johanna telling us what animals that could be encountered out there, to Wayne then calling the muster list out, so that we all boarded safely and slowly, and he knew his count. The personal touch, asking us where we were all from. Once out on the Lukwa, there was ample places to sit or stand. The talking was kept to a minimum which was lovely. We could all take it all in, and not be bombarded with voices over the loud hailer. We had 2 clans of orcas instantly, Wayne shut down the vessel, the hydrophone was deployed, and we watched and listened to these 2 families hunt salmon as they passed by the vessel. Very un-invasive, peaceful and the vocalizations were hauntingly beautiful. Johanna gave a talk about the birds and mammals that we had encountered during the last 15 minutes of the trip, as we sat engines off in Johnstone Strait, for those that were interested in hearing.
We even found a Horned Puffin - a very exciting spot. We got a couple of photos, and shall post them on here and to Stubbs’ office once I get them off the camera and cropped. Thank you again to Wayne, Johanna, Heike and all the crew at Stubbs - from check-in to check out - you guys are the best! (Source TripAdvisor 2015/08/29)
Our onboard naturalists are trained to Transport Canada standards and certified to handle all marine emergencies and first aid requirements of our passengers.
With Stubbs Island Whale Watching's strong dedication to research and education, it is the company’s ideal to hire Naturalists with a background in biology. This is motivated by the desire to be able to provide our guests with so much more than "a look at the whales". It is our belief that wildlife viewing can have great educational merit and that education (at the desired level) greatly enhances the value of the experience. By hiring biologists, it is also hoped that the experience gained from being a naturalist will contribute to further marine research and education.