Thomas Cook has stopped trips to see captive killer whales: Here's how you can see them in the wild

30th Jul 18 | Lifestyle

It's the perfect excuse to book a trip to Alaska.

killer whale

In a move welcomed by animal welfare activists, holiday firm Thomas Cook has announced it will no longer sell trips to animal parks that keep killer whales.

These include places like SeaWorld and Loro Parque in Tenerife, with the change coming into effect from next summer. The move won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s seen the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which followed the life of performing killer whale Tilikum who caused the deaths of several people while in captivity at SeaWorld. It ultimately argued that orcas held in captivity become more aggressive towards humans and each other.

However, this doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to see these powerful marine predators in the flesh. Instead, you’ll have to go a bit further afield and see if you can spot killer whales in the wild – which is both more ethical, and more majestic.

Here are four key places to see orcas in the wild.

Bremer Bay, Australia

Orca family Does it get any more beautiful than this!

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Located on the south coast of Western Australia, Bremer Bay is a hotspot for all kinds of aquatic life. Tours will take you from the picturesque beach on a boat, out to the continental drop. It is here that you’ll be able to see pods of orca families – either frolicking in the sea, or, if they’ve zeroed in on some prey, the scene will be a whole lot bloodier.

Tours run from January to April. A day-long tour with an operator like Naturaliste Charters will cost $385 (£220) and lasts around eight hours.

Alaska, USA

If you want the best chance of seeing orcas in Alaska, you should head to the US state between early May and early June. This is when pods have finished their migration from Mexico (which they start around February), arriving in Alaska by the end of April.

The port city of Seward is a good place to base yourself – set in the southern part of the state, it’s close to the Kenai Fjords which are a stomping ground for all different types of whales.

Major Marine Tours runs a specific orca tour between May 13 and June 9 2019. The four-hour tour runs out of Seward in search of the instantly recognisable black and white mammals and costs $89 (£68).

Tromsø, Norway

First time seeing humpback whales. @arcticexplorers

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Orcas love hanging about in fjords and are particular fans of the Norwegian ones just north of Tromsø – a city in the north of the far country. Orcas flock to this area because of the abundance of one of their favourite foods – herring.

If you’re interested in whale watching in Norway, the key times to visit are between late October and mid-January. Luckily, there are plenty of ecologically sustainable and responsible tours available, such as this one from Arctic Holidays. Running between approximately October 25 to February 10, the tour takes around five to six hours and costs 2,500 Norwegian krone (£230).

Peninsula Valdes, Argentina

Argentina is famous for the Andes, the cosmopolitan capital of Buenos Aires and some delicious wine, but did you know it’s also a great place to go whale watching?

Peninsula Valdes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a breathtaking nature reserve jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. There’s a much bigger window for seeing killer whales here – basically between September and April. Key months to go are October and November, which is when the orcas come closer to the shore to hunt seal pups.

A full day whale watching tour from Gray Line Argentina is priced from £107. This tour specifies that it goes whale watching between June and December, the rest of the year is to look at seals.

© Press Association 2018