Next up in our “Meet Our Members” series is (…) Five Star Whale Watching!
Established in 1985, Five Star is the oldest whale watching company in Victoria, BC. While originally a charter fishing business, founders Eric and Kathy Johnson quickly recognized the public’s growing interest in whales and began offering wildlife tours emphasizing education, conservation, and advocacy.
After the Johnson’s retired in 2017, current owner Andrew Lees took the helm. Andrew had been a manager with Five Star since 2006 after relocating from England where he was a boat captain and watersports instructor. He grew up with a passion for marine biology and embraced Five Star’s tradition of participating in cetacean research, a tradition that began with renowned researcher Ron Bates of the Marine Mammal Research Group. Ron, known locally as “The Whale Guru”, conducted his work from aboard Five Star’s vessels for more than 20 years before retiring. Five Star continues this legacy by sharing important data with researchers to this day.
Departing from Victoria’s Inner Harbour, Five Star has three vessels in their fleet – the mid-size catamarans Supercat and Kuluta, and the newest addition, Salish Shadow. Their boats were specifically designed for whale-watching, maximizing comfort while minimizing environmental impact. Five Star is a Certified Responsible Whale Watching Operator through World Cetacean Alliance and a member of the 1% for the Planet program, donating a portion of all proceeds toward environmental causes.