WHALES CONVERGE ON UCLUELET-TOFINO 20th Annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival March 11th - 19th, 2006

February 09, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Travel News
An estimated 22,000 Gray Whales make the 16,000 km round-trip journey between the Mexican Baja Peninsula and the Bering Sea near the Arctic. This annual migration is the largest known migration of any mammal.

To celebrate the arrival of these 36,000 kilogram (72,000 pound) denizens of the deep, the coastal villages of Ucluelet and Tofino along with Pacific Rim National Park Reserve are staging one of the largest whale festivals in North America, March 11-19, 2006.

"If you love whales, the West Coast of Vancouver Island is the place to be in March," says Abby Fortune, Event Co-Chair for the festival. "It is truly an extraordinary natural spectacle and a remarkable two weeks of celebration."

Over 75 events are being offered for the 20 th Annual Festival! A few highlights include: the Parade of Whales in Tofino, the Chowder Chow Down in Ucluelet - a seafood chowder cook-off competition, A Whale of A Time- Kid's Bazaar Day in Tofino, An educatonal Maritime Kid's Day in Ucluelet, Artists in Action - featuring local West Coast artists, the unveiling of 2 new whale inspired Roy Henry Vickers prints at Eagle Aerie Gallery in Tofino, First Nations Cultural Workshops, an appetizer and martini event plus an entertainment line up featuring Uzume Taiko from Vancouver, and international star Valdy at the Barnacle Bash! The festival wraps up on Sunday with closing ceremonies at the Tin Wis Resort featuring a traditional bannock and salmon BBQ and Nuu-Chah-Nulth storytellers.

"This is a unique combination of three groups working together to highlight and educate both tourists and locals alike" says Fortune. "And above all, it's fun!"

The Gray Whales, some measuring 45-46 feet (13.7-14 m) travel close to shore in the spring, pausing to feed in shallow waters, providing excellent viewing opportunities from strategic shore locations. Both Ucluelet and Tofino provide exceptional viewing areas, including a site set up with high quality spotting scopes for optimum viewing including one at Amphitrite Point Lighthouse. Hiking along the new Wild Pacific Trail offers unparalleled views of the whales as they go by. The Wild Pacific Trail skirts the jagged, black volcanic coastline, opening up a once-impenetrable marine forest to people of all ages, and only minutes from the roadside.

For an even more exhilarating, close-up view of these gentle animals, one can venture out onto the open Pacific aboard local charter boats or float planes offering scheduled whale watching excursions from either Tofino or Ucluelet.

If one cannot take in the March festival, visitors to the Ucluelet-Tofino area are afforded the opportunity to view the numerous resident Gray Whales that reside on western Vancouver Island through the months of February to October.

Location: Ucluelet and Tofino are approximately a four and a half hour drive from Victoria, BC and a 45-minute flight from either Vancouver or Seattle to the Long Beach Airport, which serves both Ucluelet and Tofino.
Pacific Rim Whale Festival Head Quarters at 250-726-7798 or e-mail: info@pacificrimwhalefestival.com
Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce: www.uclueletinfo.com
Tofino Chamber of Commerce: www.tourismtofino.com