Meet the best in the business…
Our greatest assets are our passionate, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and committed employees. They’re the reason why Eagle Wing Tours is leading the way in experiential tourism and marine conservation!
Our greatest assets are our passionate, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and committed employees. They’re the reason why Eagle Wing Tours is leading the way in experiential tourism and marine conservation!
Alyssa grew up in small-town Ontario with a love of all things outdoors, including boating, fishing, swimming and camping. It was on high school trips to Ontario’s famed Algonquin Park that she fell in love with learning about and protecting the natural world. Her budding interest in sustainability, Indigenous ecological knowledge and environmental education took her to Guatemala to volunteer on a sustainable farm and then to Portugal to volunteer at an Iberian wolf rehabilitation centre. She then moved to Victoria to take classes in coastal geography and Indigenous studies at UVic. Alyssa is passionate about art and nature—look for her tattoos to see how she blends the two—and about getting people onto the water. “It’s so rewarding to educate people while giving them a life-changing experience!” she says.
Born in Barcelona, Spain, Laura has always been fascinated with the mysteries of the sea. She graduated in physiotherapy and specialized in sports physiotherapy, but after a trip to Australia decided to pursue a career as a marine biologist, her true passion. In 2014, she moved to the south of Spain, where she spent seven years working as a naturalist guide and operations manager at a whale watching company in Tarifa (Cádiz). She’s been involved in different projects, including tagging of pink river dolphins and photo identification of giant otters in Colombia. What she loves most in her job is sharing her passion and knowledge while providing outstanding customer service. Working in Canada is a dream come true for her and she still loses her breath whenever she sees a whale!
Kristina grew up in landlocked Calgary, but has always been drawn to the ocean. After experiencing her first scuba dive at age 15, she fell in love with the underwater world. By age 19 she was already pursuing a passion for science communication as a divemaster in Thailand, where she taught divers about the animals they observed and how to be stewards for the ocean. While at university, Kristina attended Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, where she studied the ecology of coastal habitats in the Pacific Northwest. She moved to Vancouver Island after earning her biology degree in 2020. She’s been diving the cold waters off Vancouver Island ever since, and believes that the colour and diversity of life here rivals that of any tropical destination. Kristina spends her spare time diving and documenting marine life in the Salish Sea. She hopes that through sharing her footage, people will become aware of the incredible life that is right in their back yard!
Chrystelle grew up in the country in a small town outside Ottawa, Ontario, where she spent most of her childhood outdoors, exploring nature. She was fascinated by whales from a young age, but it seemed like a distant dream, living so far from the ocean. As she grew up, her love for animals and nature led her to a veterinary technician diploma, and later, a bachelor’s degree in science with a major in biology. Chrystelle visited Victoria in 2020, went on a whale watching tour with Eagle Wing, and fell in love with it all. She moved here recently and applied for her dream job. She loves to travel, hike with her dogs and eat good food. She’s always striving to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle and is a proud vegetarian. She loves sharing her knowledge with people and raising awareness for wildlife and the conservation of the environment!
Growing up on Okanagan Lake in BC, Amber spent a large part of her childhood on her family’s 28-ft. sailboat. This is where her passion for being on the water began. It led her to the Great Barrier Reef in 2018 where she lived on Lady Elliot Island, an eco-friendly resort. There, she did scuba diving and freediving in pristine waters nearly every day for six months, alongside all the creatures that dwell in this incredible ecosystem. Back in Canada, she’s found her “home” at Eagle Wing. She’s always loved animals and is working on the side at a veterinary hospital. This winter she’ll be heading to the Philippines to participate in a research program focused on whale sharks. She looks forward to bringing her passion to the boats this season and sharing with guests why these animals are so important to her!
Joe grew up on BC’s north coast, arrived in Victoria in the late 2000s, and started putting his biology degree to work in ecotourism in 2015. He worked his way up to captain after a few years as a deckhand and naturalist, small vessel skipper and mate, and has now joined Eagle Wing! He has spent over five years-worth of off-seasons and days off as a field biologist with local non-profit organizations, particularly focusing on local humpback and killer whale population ecology. Joe’s passion for the ocean and its conservation is met only by his belief that education is the best way to accomplish it, and he strives to give each guest a fully encompassing experience of the Pacific coast and its incredible ecosystems.
Growing up on Vancouver Island, Talia has always loved the ocean. As the daughter of a whale biologist, she grew up watching and learning about marine mammals around Vancouver Island and off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Her ever-growing love of humpback whales took her to the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she interned for two summers, conducting field research with the humpback whale studies program and assisting in marine mammal disentanglement efforts. She joined the Victoria whale watching community as a naturalist in 2019 and loves sharing her passion for wildlife and conservation through this platform. Along the way, she developed an obsession with wildlife photography, which now takes up a great deal of her spare time, as well as surfing, climbing, hiking and snorkelling!
Trev has always had a love for living creatures—even many Homo sapiens— and has more than 25 years of marine ecotourism under his belt in the Salish Sea. Trev hails from the prairies of Saskatchewan where he learned to ski in -40-degree winters and persistent winds (blowing wheat fields feel like the sea!). Many road trips to the BC coast hooked him. After earning a degree in marine biology from the University of British Columbia, his passion for ocean creatures spurred him to a master’s degree in marine resource biometrics. He later serendipitously ventured into whale watching, and there was no turning back. He’s worked on several ecotourism boats out of Oak Bay and Victoria and now, lured by fantastic people and fantastic boats, he has strung his hammock at Eagle Wing! For off-season adventure he delves into overland/oversea tours of Mexico, Central America and South America!
Brought up in the UK, Cressida has always been drawn to nature and the ocean. She spent many happy summers snorkelling in the Strait of Georgia off Hornby Island and, after discovering a love for scuba diving, has worked for several dive companies. She volunteered for a shark conservation project on the Gili Islands in Indonesia where she completed survey dives and collected data on the health of coral, reef sharks and other indicator species. She also completed her dive master certification on the Great Barrier Reef and continued to work as a trip advisor afterwards. Currently, she’s studying Earth and ocean sciences and physical geography with a minor in environmental studies at the University of Victoria. Her love for sharks and whales goes hand-in-hand with her love for meeting people from all around the world and sharing her passion for wildlife.
Originally from the UK, Izzy studied marine vertebrate zoology in North Wales. With the Irish Sea on her doorstep, she spent all her down time looking out for local sea life. Her keen interest in cetacean research and conservation took her to the west coast of Wales after graduating from university. There, she helped study the semi-resident population of dolphins and was part of an outreach and education program. Also, with a background in outdoor education, Izzy loves to get as many people as possible to enjoy the outdoors. She instills respect for our surroundings by telling stories, cheesy jokes and spouting facts! Victoria has been Izzy’s home-away-from-home since 2019 and she hopes to achieve a master’s degree here. Izzy looks forward to the 2022 whale watching season—another exciting opportunity for marine research and guest outreach!
Lauren is a guest service agent at our office and works behind the scenes on other projects including marketing and video content. She graduated from Camosun College with a bachelor degree in business administration with a major in marketing. She’s been part of our company for several years and started out as a volunteer before getting hired! She enjoys dancing, drawing, painting…pretty much anything creative. Outdoors, she loves to swim, hike and walk. Lauren loves making guests happy by sending them out to explore the Salish Sea. She’s passionate about the natural world and wants to protect it any way she can. As part of our team she loves learning new things about the wildlife and sharing this knowledge with guests!
Lili did not grow up on the coast but has always been drawn to the ocean. This began with a childhood love of sharks, but grew into a keen interest for all marine wildlife. Her journey into the whale world began when she interned with the University of Victoria whale lab in 2015. It only took seeing a single grey whale to launch an obsession. She continued down the whale path working with the SeaWatch Foundation in Cardigan Bay, Wales, studying bottlenose dolphins and educating the public. Lili started her whale watching career in Victoria as a naturalist in 2017, and years later her heart still skips a beat when she encounters a whale. In 2018 Lili earned her 60-ton captain’s ticket and hopes to use this as a captain at Eagle Wing one day. As a naturalist, she combines her knowledge of science and her passion for photography and storytelling to inspire others to protect the ocean.
Tom grew up near Niagara Falls in Ontario where he fostered a love for whales at a young age. As his knowledge and passion deepened, he also realized how important it was to keep whales thriving in the wild. Tomis’ dream of seeing killer whales in the wild was finally fulfilled on a trip to Vancouver Island in 2018 when he went on a tour with Eagle Wing. Along with a passion for whales, Tomis has a love for teaching and sharing knowledge with people. He holds a Bachelor of Science in geography, a Bachelor of Education and is a certified teacher. Being a naturalist provides the perfect opportunity to combine both his passions and make the ocean his classroom. Tomis enjoys helping guests have an amazing experience like he did on his first tour back in 2018.
Born and raised in Victoria, Brett is co-owner of Eagle Wing Tours and our lead captain with more than 24 years of experience within the whale watching industry. Brett brings award-winning hospitality experience, a creative artistic background, and a Crocodile Hunter-like enthusiasm to his job. His big heart and trademark smile will infect everyone aboard—and 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 paints the larger picture of the Salish Sea ecosystem and makes sure that every guest has expectations exceeded. Brett has a boundless passion for the ocean and its wildlife, a strong belief in the power of education, and an upbeat can-do attitude for real conservation action. He works hard to build relationships within the tourism industry, in the community and abroad, and serves as a board member on a number of organizations, including Destination Greater Victoria and the Pacific Whale Watch Association. He’s also president of the Wild 4 Whales Foundation. Join him on a tour and you’ll see first-hand that whale watching extends far beyond being just a livelihood for him—it’s a way of life!
Don is co-owner of Eagle Wing Tours and a talented jack-of-all-trades. He has owned previous businesses, but switched gears after he went on a whale watching tour years ago and knew he wanted to be part of the whale and wildlife watching community. Don also has a keen mechanical mind—he helped design and build our vessels, and along with Hung is our go-to guy for maintenance and repair. Don was born and raised in Victoria and has always had a passion for being on the ocean. He has many memories as a child of going fishing, sailing and camping with his family. He’s married to another Eagle Winger (Sandra) and has two children, Lauren (Eagle Winger) and Shane. He enjoys riding bikes, golfing, curling and being with his family and friends. He’s a very social person with a huge, kind heart. Don leads our company with his business partner Brett, working hard to protect the Salish Sea for generations to come—while giving our guests the thrill of a lifetime!
British Columbia’s rich biodiversity brought Dana to Vancouver Island to study marine biology and earth and ocean sciences at the University of Victoria. She has since worked with public and private sectors monitoring biodiversity and productivity in the ocean, population studies in marine protected areas, pollution remediation and environmental education. Her love of nature drives her to better understand and protect the environment with the hope that habitat for whales and other wildlife will be preserved for generations to come. On days off, she’s back to the ocean and in the parks, birding and exploring with her dog! Dana’s personal philosophy is that every individual can make small changes to create a larger impact, and ecotours are a powerful way to inspire people to protect what they love!
Russ has been a captain and wildlife guide on southern Vancouver Island since 2007. He’s always been passionate about the wildlife, ecosystems and history of the Salish Sea. In the winter he mixes things up a bit by working down in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia Island as an expedition guide. Ask him how many photos of penguins he has! Prior to guiding, Russ worked as a firefighter and paramedic in the southern US before moving back to Canada to join the Coast Guard Marine Search and Rescue team. He’s been active in several conservation groups over the years, including salmon enhancement projects and beach cleanups. Russ loves adventure and has an uncanny knack for finding whales. He’s known for his witty commentary and enthusiasm, which is why guests on his tours are in for an epic experience!
Nathan is a tourism professional with over 30 years in the industry. He studied tourism management at Camosun College, in addition to Royal Roads University, and loves to learn and relate his knowledge to his staff and guests. Nathan was formerly in the hotel industry, where he learned about exceeding guest expectations at every level of service. He brings a passion for guest service, an experience-centric approach and a high level of professionalism to one of Victoria’s #1 attractions as we continue to grow and strive for excellence. While Nathan loved working in hotels, he saw an opportunity to join a company that is laser-focused on the four pillars that support this company: conservation, sustainability, research and education. Outside work, Nathan spends time with his wife and two young boys who are budding soccer players, karate masters and camping/outdoor enthusiasts. In his spare time, he referees soccer for the Vancouver Island Soccer League. He’s been named the top soccer official for the island on four occasions and was top referee for all of BC in 2015/16!
Karac is an environmental technology graduate 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, snakes and birds. This curiosity toward nature eventually led him to a career in environmental science, where he felt he could make a difference in the lives of many species indigenous to British Columbia. Since moving to Vancouver Island from Alberta, he’s become an avid scuba diver, and will find any excuse to be outside enjoying the numerous organisms that make this ecosystem so unique!
Growing up in landlocked Alberta, Meaghan found her true calling for the ocean when she started travelling, and especially through scuba diving. She spent many years working overseas as a certified Dive Master, conducting research and giving educational programs on coral reefs (her first true love!). Witnessing multiple ecosystems interacting in a foreign world helped shape the rest of her life. She formally studied marine and coastal ecology, while contributing to multiple conservation initiatives on and under the water. Meaghan is one of the lead coordinators for our innovative “Exploring the Salish Sea” education program. Three years ago, she bought her own sailboat, Spyhop. She had zero knowledge of sailing at the time, but has grown to love the lifestyle and the deep feeling of connection to the sea it embodies. She recently started her own green business, Salt Legacy, which contributes to the circular economy by collecting worn-out sails from sailboats that would otherwise be heading for the landfill. They’re then upcycled into new West Coast-inspired gear!
Mel has loved animals since she was a little girl. Growing up just outside Toronto, she started working with and learning from horses. This led her to 10 years of experience as a horseback guide in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Botswana. She’s logged thousands of hours in the saddle, leading and educating guests through national parks and game reserves worldwide. After graduating with a bachelor of science degree in marine and freshwater biology as well as animal biology, Mel followed her passion and moved to Victoria to pursue a career on the ocean with her favourite animal, the humpback whale. As one of our amazing marine naturalists, she uses the powerful platform of ecotourism to educate the public on the importance of our big blue backyard. She’s also a captain-in-training and pursuing her goal to acquire her 60-ton ticket! On each tour, she hopes guests experience that “magical moment” which will inspire them to save and protect the oceans!
Growing up on Vancouver Island, Sierra made a deep connection with the outdoors. In her spare time, when she’s not on the beach looking for whales, she can be found hiking along the Juan de Fuca Trail or practicing yoga as a certified instructor. At a young age, Sierra went on her very first whale watching trip in Maui and witnessed a humpback whale and her calf breaching side-by-side. Feeling impassioned from this encounter, she soon after went snorkeling and heard humpback whales vocalizing for the first time! These events inspired her and blossomed into a deep love for the ocean—especially for humpback whales—and greatly influenced her career path. Sierra loves to talk to guests about the rich history and biodiversity of the Salish Sea. Through these experiences, she hopes to foster a deeper connection and passion for our beautiful blue backyard. Sierra completed the Level II Adventure Tourism Program at West Coast Adventure College and started her career at Eagle Wing in 2017 as a naturalist. She’s now a captain-in-training and pursuing her goal to acquire her 60-ton ticket!
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 skillset 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 years, and when not out on the water applies his considerable photography talents to land-based wildlife, notably grizzly bears in northern BC. Clint is always excited to share his knowledge of Vancouver Island, whales and the Salish Sea with passengers!
Derek was born on Vancouver Island and spent his youth on the back roads, lakes and ocean in the region. Along with a lifetime of outdoor experience, he’s a graduate and a guest instructor the West Coast Adventure College. Fifteen years as a Certified Marine Naturalist in the Salish Sea has led Derek to realize his most enjoyable passion is sharing his wealth of knowledge and experiences directly with Eagle Wing guests “on the deck.” Many other marine certifications allow him to fill the roles of Second Captain and First Mate on our vessels as required. The off-season is split between time in the area, and time at his winter location in the tropics. Derek is also in the rotation to serve as ecoguardian at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. Personal passions include fly-fishing, canoeing and flying kites.
Mika is a marine biologist with over 13 years of commercial experience in the Salish Sea. Her field experience includes Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands, where she enjoyed spending her days with penguins, seals, and of course, whales. She has experience working in animal welfare and behaviour with the BC SPCA, as well as wildlife rehabilitation around the world. Having accidentally fallen into ecotourism, Mika was inspired by the effects that guided wildlife trips could have on people. “Introducing guests to the natural world around them and teaching them how they can make a difference through informed decisions helps to create passionate advocates of the world’s oceans and helps drive positive change for conservation,” she says. We couldn’t agree more! Mika conducted her post-graduate research on southern resident killer whales and has a BSc in biology and an MSc in environment and management.
Jeff has over 18 years experience in the Victoria eco-tour industry and has logged close to 8,000 tours on the Salish Sea. That’s more than 17,000 hours of on the water experience !
He’s a university-educated biologist and has an extensive knowledge of the marine environment. He’s very passionate about what he does and share shares that enthusiasm on each and every tour. Go on one of his tours and you’ll be on “Jeff time” as he literally goes the extra mile so that you get a comprehensive and enriching experience. Over the years, he’s been nominated countless times for service excellence in whale watching by the Victoria Hospitality Society. His passions include mountain climbing, adventure backpacking, offshore sailboat racing, scuba diving and spending time with his own pod, er, family. It’s a pleasure having Jeff in the Eagle Wing family!
Peter grew up in Victoria and started with Eagle Wing in 2014, working in the office. Since then, he’s worked in almost every role, including answering phones and emails, driving the shuttle van, doing maintenance work in the shipyard, training new marine staff, and driving boats. At one point he also took photos. In addition to his work at Eagle Wing, Peter also works for the Victoria Pilot Boat as an engineer and deckhand. When he’s not working, Peter can usually be found surfing, sailing, riding bikes or trying to escape winter in the tropics. When asked what keeps him coming back to Eagle Wing every year his answer is usually: “I get to have more fun and see more cool things in a week at work than most people do in a lifetime. And for some reason they pay me for it!”
As co-owner Brett’s wife, one of Rachel‘s main jobs is to keep him in line. Somebody has to! Rachel is a professional wife and mom (of four kids, if you include Brett) who also multitasks by managing Eagle Wing’s reservation software system, does the company’s bookkeeping, and administers the payroll. In other words, she makes sure that the administrative components of our company are ship-shape and running smoothly. Rachel’s many behind-the-scenes contributions ensure that our guests are able to experience an unforgettable Salish Sea adventure!
When it comes to running whale watching tours around Vancouver Island, Captain Rod is local knowledge. Rod was born and raised in Victoria and has spent most of that time on the water, from floating on logs and playing in the tides as a young boy to fishing and sailing. He’s circumnavigated Vancouver Island, sailed across the Atlantic, run icebreakers through the Northwest Passage, run BC Ferries ships through Active Pass and the Gulf Islands, worked on tugboats from Newfoundland to Wisconsin, and back and forth on the St. Lawrence Seaway. He’s also trained as an oil spill technician and is always on watch in case of an emergency on our coastline. In 2021 he spent a few months as the ecoguardian at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve, maintaining generators and solar panels, testing water salinity, monitoring the surveillance systems, and enjoying the surrounding marine life. Rod continues to be an industry protector of whales and has a deep love of the local area, and a lifelong respect for whales, birds and nature. He’s sure to entertain and educate you!
Having worked in all aspects of the hospitality and tourism field, Selena‘s passion for guest services is her main priority! She’s lived and travelled to many destinations around the world, and that has helped her understand the needs of guests from different backgrounds and countries. Her priority is to ensure that their time with Eagle Wing Tours is the best possible experience! She always goes above and beyond to ensure that guests experience that “Wow” factor. With a diploma in hotel management under her belt, she decided to go one step further, getting a bachelor degree in science with a minor in hospitality and tourism management. Working at Eagle Wing is a perfect mix for her passion for nature, being outside and being on the water!
Sydney is a marine biologist whose studies have focused on marine ecology and conservation in the Pacific Northwest. Since joining Eagle Wing in 2014, Sydney has had the opportunity to explore many avenues of marine conservation and environmental stewardship. In the summer, she’s a marine naturalist, educating the public on the rich biodiversity of the Salish Sea. In the fall and winter, she leads our award-winning school outreach program, inspiring local youth on the importance of the Salish Sea. Since it began in 2018, this innovative program has connected more than 2,200 local students with their big blue backyard. And Sydney has found her true passion—marine education, especially with the younger generations. “Connection to place is key in conservation and we build those connections through experiences,” she says. “With this deeper understanding, we inspire and empower them to protect the ocean in their everyday lives, and perhaps their future careers!”
Val’s first encounter with a wild killer whale took place in 1986 when a large male known as Ruffles (J1) swam right under the small boat she was in. She was instantly smitten! Since then, she’s been in and around Victoria’s evolving whale watching industry, blending her skills and experience in writing and photography with a passion for whales and all things marine. Val is our Communications Manager and lead photographer, and writes many of our blogs and photo posts on social media. She’s one of our senior marine naturalists, has a biology degree and has almost 40 years of experience as a science writer and communications specialist. She’s written a booklet on whales, dolphins and porpoises of BC and hundreds of articles on BC’s killer whales. She spent several years volunteering at the Vancouver Aquarium, where she worked with young harbour seals and sea lions. She’s one of few people on the planet who can say they’ve bottle-fed a Steller sea lion pup on their lap! Val loves nothing more than sharing British Columbia’s stunning marine environment and its wildlife with our guests and social media followers!