Whales are notoriously difficult to buy a gift for. They look terrible in sweaters, they have no use for a jar of homemade jam, and the latest gadgets don’t work under the sea. So, what do you get a whale (or whale-friendly human) that has everything?

An eco-friendly gift that keeps on giving, of course!

Here are our top six whale-friendly holiday gift ideas for 2023….

A humpback whale breaches out of the water with its long pectoral flippers sticking out like wings
Humpback whale / Eagle Wing Tours photo

1. Become a Center for Whale Research member!

The Center for Whale Research (CWR) is an internationally recognized pioneer in marine mammal photo identification and research. Based in Washington State’s San Juan Islands near Victoria, the organization is dedicated to the study and conservation of the critically endangered southern resident killer whale population in the Pacific Northwest.

Your support makes their important work possible. When you become a member of this great organization, you’ll receive access to:

  • Downloadable resident and Bigg’s killer whale ID guides
  • WHALE Report newsletter, which includes population updates, field reports, exclusive videos, free photo downloads, and more
  • Access to the “POD Pad” whale getaway in Friday Harbour on San Juan Island, Washington State
  • Email notifications of the most recent encounters.

Plus, you’ll get that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with knowing you’ve made a direct contribution to killer whale conservation, education and advocacy!

Researchers on the Center for Whale Research vessel take ID photos of nearby killer whales
The Center for Whale Research team in action!

2. Sponsor a whale safety sign, or a humpback whale!

Support research, education and wildlife response with the Marine Education and Research Society (MERS). Sponsor a “See a Blow? Go Slow!” sign in the name of your favourite family member or friend who already has everything.

You can also sponsor a humpback whale if that’s more up your alley, which includes a card with a photo, USB stick with biography, photos and humpback sounds recorded in the area, and an update on your sponsored whale within the year.

Prefer a gift you can wrap up? Check out the MERS online shop for some unique, locally made treasures for the ocean-lover in your life. Contributions directly support research, education and marine wildlife response activities!

3. Contribute to ocean research and conservation!

Shop thoughtfully from organizations like Pacific Wild, where your purchases help to support campaigns like Save BC Wolves and Protect Pacific Herring. Or the Pacific Salmon Foundation, which is working hard to restore and protect BC’s declining salmon populations at the community level.

A harbour porpose swims through the water. Porpoises can be adopted through the Porpoise Conservation Society
Adopt a Porpoise! / Eagle Wing Tours photo

Adopt a Porpoise through the Porpoise Conservation Society and directly support research, education and conservation efforts to help these small cetaceans. You can choose your species, including the critically endangered Vaquita porpoise of Mexico which desperately needs our help!

Check out the list of organizations Eagle Wing Tours supports for more ideas!

4. Hit the books!

Catch up on the latest in Marine Wildlife Lit (a very special genre!) with the following titles. Follow the links or check your nearby bookstore. For Victoria locals, many of these titles are available at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea gift shop in Sidney!

  • Sharks Forever by Mark Lieren-Young. Take a deep dive into the lives of sharks—their habitat, biology, habits and personalities. And learn about their biggest threats, from marine pollution to overfishing and bycatch to shark-fin soup. Order here
  • If You Take Away the Sea Otter (2020) by Susannah Buhrman-Deever. A true story of the importance of balance within the marine ecosystem, starring a raft of charismatic sea otters. Order here
  • Orcas of the Salish Sea by Mark Leiren-Young. This engaging picture book introduces young readers to the members of J-pod, part of the endangered population of killer whales that frequents the Salish Sea. It includes many spectacular photos, including a few from Eagle Wing’s talented photographers! Order here
  • What Matters by Alison Hughes. This delightful picture book for preschoolers sensitively explores nature’s connections and traces the environmental ripple effects of one child’s good deed. Order here
  • Oolichan Moon (2022) by Samantha Beynon. This beautifully illustrated children’s book celebrates the traditional knowledge of Nisga’a Elders and the sacredness of traditional goods, particularly the oolichan fish. Order here

5. Give the gift of an Eagle Wing experience!

Wild 4 Whales vessel with killer whales in the foreground
Eagle Wing’s vessel Wild 4 Whales with killer whales / Eagle Wing Tours photo

Don’t know what to get for that family member or friend who has everything? Eagle Wing gift certificates are available and easy to purchase online. With an abundance of whales and a variety of wildlife, framed by the breathtaking scenery of the Salish Sea, every trip is an adventure. Come and explore the Salish Sea with us!

6. Bonus ideas for Greater Victoria locals!

Visit the Royal BC Museum Gift Shop for some BC-themed mementos or some fun and educational toys for the kids. Look for whale and ocean-themed items! The museum’s Book Shop also has a vast selection of gifts for that history and nature enthusiast on your list (yes, including whale books!). Proceeds from the sale of merchandise go directly to supporting museum programs!

Photo: Royal British Columbia Museum

Donate to or become a member of the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea in Sidney. The centre also has a wonderful gift shop with plenty of ideas for kids and grown-ups alike, including many of the books we mention above. There’s currently no online option for the gift shop but it is open for in-person shopping. Pick up a yearly pass (as a gift or treat yourself!) while you’re there!

The Soap Exchange is not just cleaning products! Shop online for some beautiful locally made soaps, hand creams and lip balms, and while you’re there check out their line of refillable, eco-friendly cleaning products (we use them at Eagle Wing Tours!).

Happy Holidays everyone!