Eagle Wing: Company & Family

Families have shared purpose and so it is at Eagle Wing: not only do we strive together to create a successful and flourishing business but we also work to become strong advocates on behalf of the (sometimes endangered) wildlife that we encounter. Without pushing an agenda we discuss with guests the challenges wildlife faces, the issues at play and the strategies for success that we and other stakeholders have discovered.

Eagle Wing is proud to rely on word of mouth and customer referrals (see our number one rating at Trip Adviser 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016) 10 Years in a row!!! for the majority of our business. Each and every guest is a VIP considered to be a source for future business and a person with the potential to help change the future of endangered species and ecosystems. Come share in the purpose that the Eagle Wing Whale Watching Tours  family lives every day!  Enjoy the best.

Captain
Brett Soberg Brett Soberg

Brett Soberg

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Brett Soberg

Lead Captain / Co-owner / Naturalist

Born and raised in Victoria, Brett is our head captain, general manager and the co-owner of Eagle Wing Tours. He has over 18 years operating within the whale watching industry in Victoria. Brett is known for following his heart when it comes to daily work and it shows; he still exhibits the enthusiasm that brought him here. In addition to his on the water skills he brings a very creative artistic background, 8 years of Hotel Hospitality (6 years at the prestigious Delta Ocean Pointe Resort & winner of the prestigious Hospitality Award), and a Crocodile Hunter-like enthusiasm.

His adventures are a thrilling, captivating experience. One part display of skill, behind the wheel on one of the world’s fastest and most maneuverable boats and another part educational safari, his trademark smile will infect everyone aboard…the jokes aren’t half bad either. When other captains are turning back for the harbour, he’s going the extra mile (or many) as he tries to paint the larger picture of our ecosystem and make sure that every guest has had his or her expectations exceeded.  Your marine experience will be unforgettable! Brett is a colourful character who prides himself on detail and being able to provide more than simply just a look at the whales. Brett passionately believes that there is an educational merit to all of his tours, and you will see first hand that whale watching extends far beyond being just a livelihood to him; it is his way of life.

Captain
Rod King Rod King

Rod King

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Rod King

Captain / Naturalist

When it comes to running whale watching tours around Vancouver Island., Captain Rod King islocal knowledge. Rod is born and raised in Victoria and has spent most of that time on the water from floating on logs and playing the tides as a young boy to fishing and sailing. Rod has circumnavigated Vancouver Island, sailed across the Atlantic, run icebreakers through the North West passage, run BC Ferries’ large ships through Active Pass and our Gulf Islands. He has worked on tugs from Newfoundland to Wisconsin and back and forth on the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Rod works as an oil spill technician and is on watch, in the case of an emergency on our coast line. Rod works with divers in the commercial sea urchin and cucumber fishery and has raced sailboats in several Swiftsure races. Rod is past owner of a whale watching company and designed Zodiac whale watching boats that have become the industry’s standard. Rod is past vice president of the Whale Watching Association Northwest several years running and stood up to protect whales from been hunted on the American coast line. Rod continues to be a lead captain in the industry protector of whales and has a love of the local area, his lifelong fascination and respect for whales, birds and nature, observing them for over twenty years. Is sure to entertain and educate you.

Captain
Jeff Lamarche Jeff Lamarche

Jeff Lamarche

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Jeff Lamarche

Captain / Biologist

I am, formally of Seafun Safaris, one of Victoria’s premier whale watching captains with over 18 years experience in the Victoria eco-tour industry.  I have logged close to 8,000 tours on the Salish Sea equating to over 17,000 hrs. on the water experience !!  I am a university-educated biologist and have an extensive knowledge of the marine environment.

Over the years, I have gotten to know the Southern Resident Killer Whales (J, K & L Pods) personally and am able to identify the whales on sight through memory alone.  I am very passionate about what I do and share my enthusiasm during each and every tour. My trips often go over the allotted tour time as I literally go the extra mile so that my passengers get a comprehensive & enriching experience.  To add to the total trip experience, I will not only introduce you to the whales, but also all the other wildlife (seals, sea lions, porpoises,eagles, otters and other marine birds).  I pride myself on attention to detail and am always striving to provide the “perfect trip” to far exceed the guests’ expectations. Over the years, I have been nominated countless times for service excellence in whale watching by theVictoria Hospitality Society.  My passions include mountain climbing, adventure backpacking, offshore sailboat racing, scuba diving and spending time with my own J-pod (his three kids – Justin, Jesse and Julianna). It is a pleasure being a part of the Eagle Wing  family as I enjoy bringing extensive knowledge, passion & a playful narrative to the tours.

Captain
Chris Bane Chris Bane

Chris Bane

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Chris Bane

Captain / Naturalist

Chris’ love for the ocean started at the young age of 9 when he started surfing and acquired his LA County dive certificate. At 10 years old he was inspired after he went on his first whale watching boat and was able to touch a Grey whale off of San Pedro. After High School he spent 6 years in the US Coast Guard performing search and rescue operations in Manasquan NJ and a short stint as a lighthouse keeper at West Bank light NJ. He moved back to Hawaii after the Coast Guard where for the next 20 years he inspired people from all over the world by performing snorkeling, diving, big game fishing and whale watching tours on Kauai’s Na Pali coast and the “forbidden island” of Ni’ihau. His last 4 years in Kauai was spent working with Robin Baird from Cascadia Research Collective taking photo id’s of the varied marine mammals around Kauai’s waters. His efforts resulted in contributing one catalog paper on the marine mammals of Niihau and Kauai which was published with the Hawaii Audubon Societies journal Elepaio.

In short, Chris is a worldly, animal loving, passionate, educated & informed whale geek who has undoubtedly provided many people with life long memories and experiences. We at Eagle Wing are very fortunate to have ‘Five-O’ living in Victoria on Vancouver Island for the past 4 yrs, working in the whale watching industry and tugboat industry. Come drop us a line and come out and experience Chris’ unique flavour for education and story telling.

Captain
Dale Mitchell Dale Mitchell

Dale Mitchell

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Dale Mitchell

Captain / Naturalist

With over twenty five years at sea 40+ trans Atlantics and numerous deliveries worldwide from the Mediterranean, to the Baltic, the Caribbean and more, Dale is the man. From little zodiacs to Tall Ships, Dale has been the captain of high performance racing yachts and delivery skipper of mega yachts power and sail. His passion for the ocean is endless and having him as your captain will really make your day. And don’t let the long hair and unruly moustache fool you. He is a professional with amazing knowledge, stories and a fun guy to have on board.

Captain
Dr. Casey Brant Dr. Casey Brant

Dr. Casey Brant

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Dr. Casey Brant

Captain / Naturalist

Casey started working as first a naturalist then captain in Victoria 14 years ago, drawn by a passion for the ocean and all things marine. Her on-the-water work experience includes, among other things, stints in the Naval reserve, working as a fisheries observer, kayak guiding, and leading First Nations canoe tours.

Originally from Ontario, she studied geology at the University of Waterloo. When she moved to the coast she returned to school shifting her studies more ocean-ward. Many years later, Casey now holds a doctorate from the University of Victoria’s School of Earth and Ocean Science. She describes her research area as “studying the geochemistry of mid-ocean ridge hydrothermal vents”. To her mind, this was the perfect research area for a geologist who can’t stay out of the ocean. Casey now spends her winter months teaching Earth and Environmental Science at Royal Roads University and Vancouver Island University. Her favourite kind of teaching is in the field, whether it is showing students rock formations or stream erosion, or answering questions and sharing information on the deck of a whale watching boat.

When she is not teaching or driving boats she can be found volunteering with environmental education and stewardship initiatives, or hiking and exploring Vancouver Island with her dogs.

Captain
Tom Maxwell Tom Maxwell

Tom Maxwell

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Tom Maxwell

Captain / Naturalist

Good Ol’ Tom is a captain who has been there and done that. He is one of the ‘oldest’ drivers in the fleet and a born and raised Victoria boy.  He has worked 35 years with the provincial government, land surveying and later, environmental stewardship officer with Ministry of Environment..

Also to his credit, Tom has served as unit leader with Oak Bay Sea Rescue, been whale watching since 2003 (over 10 years). Tom is hard not to like….he has a comedic narrative that adds to his charm and nautical expertise:)

He recently has proclaimed that his best day at work was being able to introduce his grandsons to the natural wonders of the Salish Sea–Super cool!

Oh, and on occasion, you may find him dancing as a host on the Queen Mary II…or maybe with the whales LOL!

Naturalist
Derek Sterling Derek Sterling

Derek Sterling

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Derek Sterling

“Lead” Naturalist / Photographer

Derek (aka D-Rock) was born on Vancouver Island and spent his youth on the back roads, lakes and ocean around the area. By his teens, he was working as a wilderness and ocean canoe guide, as well as a fishing guide out on the west coast of the island. Favorite trips at the time were the West Coast Trail, and canoeing the Broken Group,  Tofino area and Hot Springs Cove.

“Life” and family moved him to the interior, with new opportunities for fly fishing, hiking and camping. During this time, a career in photography retail transformed into a full time passion as a professional photographer.

Moving back to the island in 2001, Derek added to his ongoing love of the ocean by certifying up to the level of Rescue Diver as a scuba diver. Following this, certifications followed as a 60ton Limited Master marine Captain, a Restricted Engineer and as a University of Victoria Certified Marine Naturalist.

Work in the Whale Watching industry has also been paralleled  with certifications as  Kayak guide and completion of a Level II Adventure Tourism program at the West Coast Adventure College – a private college where Derek now guest teaches. Living on a sailboat in downtown Victoria just rounds out the whole package! Plans for the upcoming off seasons includes volunteer work at an animal rehabilitation center in Belize and planned sailing in the Sea of Cortez!

Naturalist
Val Shore Val Shore

Val Shore

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Val Shore

Marine Biologist / Photographer

Val’s first encounter with a wild killer whale took place in 1986 off Saturna Island near Victoria when a large male known as “Ruffles” swam right under the small boat she was in. She was instantly and incurably smitten! Since then, she has been in and around Victoria’s evolving whale watching industry, blending her skills and experience in communication and photography with an all-consuming passion for whales and all things marine.

Val is certified in Marine Emergency Duties, has a biology degree, works as a science-writer with the University of Victoria, and for many years has been a freelance writer/editor in a very specialized niche area—whales and marine conservation in the northeast Pacific. Her many writing accomplishments include a booklet on whales, dolphins and porpoises of BC and hundreds of articles on BC’s killer whales. She is meticulous with her facts and enjoys talking to whale researchers in BC, Washington State and around the world to get the latest knowledge to pass on to passengers. She also spent many years volunteering at the Vancouver Aquarium, where she worked with young harbour seals and sea lions. In fact, she’s one of few people on the planet who can say they bottle-fed a Steller sea lion pup on their lap!

She’s also very skilled with a camera (it’s an essential appendage for her on trips!) and is able to capture those “wonderful moments” that occur on our tours with great regularity. Val’s experience and infectious enthusiasm make her a true asset to the Eagle Wing family, and she loves nothing more than sharing British Columbia’s stunning marine environment and its wildlife with our passengers!

Captain
Peter Zelen Peter Zelen

Peter Zelen

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Peter Zelen

Captain

Transplanted from Calgary at the early age of one, Peter grew up on Vancouver Island and truly encapsulates the West Coast. Since joining Eagle Wing Tours in 2014, after attending the West Coast Adventure College, Peter has gone from working in the office to being the youngest captain in the company.

Naturalist
Sydney McCabe Sydney McCabe

Sydney McCabe

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Sydney McCabe

Marine Biologist

From seaweed to barnacles, whales to sharks, my passion extends to every part of our oceans. I have recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology, focusing on marine ecology and conservation. Future research will involve the ecology of transient killer whales and ecological interactions between predator and prey relationships.  I am also interested in the complexity and productivity of kelp forest ecosystems. I am honoured to work for Eagle Wing tours. I love the environmental and sustainable aspects of this company such as the donations made to the Center for Whale Research and 1% for the Planet. This company supports my passions and has opened up many opportunities for me such as meeting Ken Balcomb, executive director and principal investigator for The Center for Whale Research. Further, this company is allowing me to pursue research. This gives me the opportunity to teach individuals how valuable and important our oceans are. My goal as a naturalist is to educate future generations and get them excited about barnacles, kelp and all sorts of marine mammals. I could not ask for a better opportunity and I am immensely proud to be a part of this team.

Naturalist
Corinne McKay Corinne McKay

Corinne McKay

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Corinne McKay

Customer Service Hostess & Naturalist

Corinne has been a whale watching naturalist for 4 summers and loves learning how to photo ID our southern resident killer whales. She has a wildlife rehabilitation background and has her veterinary assistant diploma. Her speciality is working with birds of prey. Originally from Edmonton Alberta she grew up spending most of her time skating at West Edmonton mall. At the time they also had dolphins at the aquarium and she would spend her breaks watching them and that is where her obsession with cetaceans began. She has spent lots of time travelling the world and loves talking to our tourists. Now she loves viewing and learning about all our wildlife on the coast where they can be free.

Naturalist
Clint Rivers Clint Rivers

Clint Rivers

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Clint Rivers

Photographer / Naturalist

Clint was born on Vancouver Island and has always had an affinity for the ocean and wildlife. Hiking the beaches of Vancouver Island and enjoying all the West Coast has to offer sparked his passion for adventure. Following his service in military search and rescue on Vancouver Island, Clint added wildlife photography to his skill set and became an incurable killer whale addict and advocate for the diverse ecosystems of the Salish Sea. He’s been in and around the Victoria whale watching industry for seven years, and when not out on the water applies his considerable photography talents to land-based wildlife, notably grizzly bears in northern BC in the late summer. Clint is always excited to share his knowledge of Vancouver Island, whales and the Salish Sea with passengers.

Naturalist
Molly Fraser Molly Fraser

Molly Fraser

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Molly Fraser

Customer Service Hostess & Naturalist

I was born and raised on the West Coast of Vancouver Island in a small remote fishing village. By growing up in this community, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by the incredible wildlife that Vancouver Island has to offer. This included everything from Rock Crabs to Killer Whales! From tide pools to the open water, my love for the ocean has continued to grow over the years. This love and respect for the ocean and wildlife is what has led me to study Coastal and Environmental Geography at the University of Victoria in hopes of being able to conserve the environment. I have particularly taken interests in studying Pacific Salmon and their key role in the Pacific Northwest ecosystem. Working with Eagle Wing has been the greatest pleasure because they share the same passions as I do about conservation and sustainability. I have always had a life long passion for whales and take great pride in showing people these incredible and beautiful mammals in their natural environment.

Staff
Selena Donker Selena Donker

Selena Donker

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Selena Donker

Office Manager

Having worked in all aspects of the hospitality and tourism field, Selena’s passion for guest services is her main priority! She has lived and travelled to many destinations around the world, that has allowed her to not only understand the needs and desires of guests from different backgrounds and countries, but also to ensure that their time with Eagle Wing Tours is the best possible experience! Selena is happy to go above and beyond to ensure that guests experience that “WOW” factor. She has a diploma in Hotel Management and decided to further her education, getting a Bachelors Degree in Science with a minor in Hospitality & Tourism Management. Working at Eagle Wing Tours is a perfect mix for her passion of nature, being outside and on the water, and being able to meet people from all over the world to show them the best Whale & Wild Life tours that Victoria has to offer!

Staff
Mika Ogilvie Mika Ogilvie

Mika Ogilvie

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Mika Ogilvie

Social Sustainability Manager / Marine Biologist

Mika Ogilvie is a marine biologist with a wide range of travel and work experience, including training guide dogs and rehabilitating injured wildlife in Canada, South Africa and Belize, and supervising animal management and welfare in 37 BC SPCA shelters across the province. Since 2008, she has spent her seasons alternating between working as a first mate on whale-watching boats in Victoria and working on expedition ships in Antarctica, introducing people to the natural world around them and teaching them how they can make a difference through informed decisions. Mika is passionate about conservation and is a firm believer in the saying “we only save what we love, and we only love what we know,” which is why ecotourism and guided wildlife trips are so important. Mika started her B.Sc. in Biology in Johannesburg, South Africa, and completed her degree at the University of Victoria. She is currently in the process of finishing her M.Sc. in Environment and Management at Royal Roads University.

Staff
Wayne Nowak Wayne Nowak

Wayne Nowak

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Wayne Nowak

Management Consultant

Wayne Nowak has been in the travel and tourism industry for over 35 years in Alberta, BC & NWT. He has owned and operated the Budget Rent a Car franchise in the Alberta Rockies as well as Action Travel  one of Calgary’s top corporate travel agencies that looked after the travel for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games Organizing Committee and Alberta Alpine Adventures – an outdoor adventure company in the Rockies offering hiking, heli-hiking and golf packages. His experience is extensive to say the least (feel free to see his ‘Linked In’ profile). Most recently he was the base manager for Hyack Air Victoria – agents for Kenmore Air Floatplane service out ofSeattle and was an owner, Managing Director and Marketing Specialist at Maxx Communications. Since the summer of 2010, he served as a management consultant and office manager for us at Eagle Wing Whale Watching Tours.

Staff
Rachel Soberg Rachel Soberg

Rachel Soberg

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Rachel Soberg

Reservations Manager

Ok, lets be totally honest :) Rachel, Brett’s wife, surely does keep him in line LOL! Somebody has to? Rachel runs the ‘ship’ (office) and makes sure that our guests are able to experience a true Eagle Wing adventure.

Staff
Nathan Bird Nathan Bird

Nathan Bird

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Nathan Bird

Executive Director

Nathan brings with him over 25 years experience in tourism. A graduate of Camosun College’s Tourism Program as the top student, currently enrolled at Royal Roads University in their Master’s Program for Tourism Management, Nathan loves to learn and relate his knowledge to his staff and guests. Most recently in the hotel industry, Nathan has joined us from the Fairmont brand where he learned about exceeding guests’ expectations at every moment of truth. He brings passion for guest service, an experience-centric approach and a high level of professionalism to Victoria’s #1 attraction as we continue to grow and strive for excellence. We are excited to have him on board!

Staff
Charlotte Denton Charlotte Denton

Charlotte Denton

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Charlotte Denton

Guest Experience Coordinator and Social Media Specialist

Charlotte Elgersma has joined our team in 2017 as a Guest Experience Coordinator/Social Media Specialist. Charlotte brings incredible energy and a penchant for story-telling. She will assist us with our Social Media endeavours in addition to helping out in the office with day-t0-day activities. A graduate of Trinity Western University with a degree in Bachelor in Fine Arts, Charlotte writes and lives with passion, and she loves the adventure of working for Eagle Wing. We are thrilled to have her on board.

Staff
Bex Gibson Bex Gibson

Bex Gibson

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Bex Gibson

Guest Experience Coordinator

Bex is a passionate marine biologist from New Zealand. Her ocean based upbringing has steered her in the direction of exploring and understanding all marine life and the importance of conservation and environmental sustainability in our everyday lives. Bex has a deep affection for traveling to new countries to be submerged into new cultures and to have awe inspiring interactions with animals of her dreams, both on land and beneath it. Working at Eagle Wing Tours has allowed Bex to sprinkle her enthusiasm on all our guests before and after their tours. Her belief in experiential learning, understanding through experience and observation is what she loves to promote. Where a greater level of respect and appreciation is given to these marine mammals once they have been observed first hand.

Staff
Alex Zelen Alex Zelen

Alex Zelen

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Alex Zelen

Guest Experience Coordinator

Island grown Alex is our “go to girl” for dining and activity recommendations in Victoria. She is completing her final year of her Business degree at the University of Victoria and about to embark on a Slovenian adventure for her second last semester of school! The office will miss Alex’s calm, cool and collected spirit, but most of all we’ll miss her passion for whales and wild life. This is her second summer here at Eagle Wing Tours, we look forward to welcoming her back summer of 2018.

Staff
Alina Andrushko Alina Andrushko

Alina Andrushko

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Alina Andrushko

Guest Experience Coordinator

Born and raised in Armstrong, BC, Alina always has a thirst for adventure! She first came to the island to go to West Coast Adventure College where she fell in love with the West Coast. Alina divides her time between Victoria in the summer and the ski slopes in the interior of BC in the winter. She keeps herself busy by working at both Eagle Wing Tours and Harbour Air. When not working she can be found dancing to 80s music.

Staff
Dana Zubko Dana Zubko

Dana Zubko

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Dana Zubko

Guest Experience Coordinator

Dana is currently pursuing a degree in marine biology and ocean science at the University of Victoria, with a special interest in conservation and ecology around Vancouver Island. Dana is thrilled to work for a company that shares her environmental interests and values. Her work and studies allows her to be outside all day, which is where she feels she belongs. When Dana’s not down by the ocean you can find her riding her horse or hiking her dogs, a true West Coast girl.

Staff
Michelle Richards Michelle Richards

Michelle Richards

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Michelle Richards

Guest Experience Coordinator

Michelle is an adventurous nature lover and certified dive master. Although she is grateful to be born and raised on the BC coast, she loves to travel the world whenever she can. All of our staff envy her 30 second commute from her houseboat in the neighbouring marina. Michelle is currently completing her nursing degree at the University of Victoria.

Naturalist
Brendon Bissonnette Brendon Bissonnette

Brendon Bissonnette

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Brendon Bissonnette

Naturalist & Photographer

Brendon was born and raised in Ontario, but his affinity was always for the ocean and, in particular, the killer whales that inhabit it. Throughout the completion of his degree at the University of Ottawa and time with Environment Canada, Brendon developed a love for wildlife photography and quickly became a published Canadian Geographic photographer. His interest lies in understanding the complex social interactions present between transient killer whales. His goal as a naturalist is to educate and inform people about British Columbia’s marine wildlife, to inspire future generations about the importance of conservation, and to share the beauty of the Salish Sea through his photography. Brendon says that working for Eagle Wing Tours is a dream come true and that he is proud to be part of such a passionate team of individuals.

Naturalist
Karac Lindsay Karac Lindsay

Karac Lindsay

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Karac Lindsay

Naturalist

Karac is an Environmental Technology student with a passion for understanding the biological world. His enthusiasm for wildlife began at a young age, resulting in many unwanted house guests for his direct family members, including butterflies, snacks and birds. This curiosity towards nature eventually led him to pursue a career in environmental science, where Karac felt he could make a difference in the lives of numerous species indigenous to British Columbia. Since moving to Vancouver Island from Alberta, he has become an avid SCUBA diver, and will find any excuse to be outside enjoying the numerous organisms that make this ecosystem so unique.

Staff
Allysia Murray Allysia Murray

Allysia Murray

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Allysia Murray

Staff

Allysia left her job as an editor for 4×4 magazine to spend six months travelling the United States before arriving in Victoria. A chance encounter at a coffee shop led to her employment with Eagle Wing Tours and she couldn’t be more tickled to work for us! The majority of her work experience has been in customer service, which complements Allysia’s passion for conservation and sustainable tourism as she loves talking to guests and helping them get out on our fantastic eco-tours!