It was five months ago that the Leviathan II capsized off the coast of Tofino, killing six of the 24 people aboard.
The tragedy rocked the whale watching industry and the tiny town of Tofino.
Today is the first day of Whale Festival in Tofino, an annual celebration of the arrival of the Grey Whale in our west coast waters.
After a long and mournful winter, the return of whale watching is more than welcome.
“The general feeling right now is anticipation, looking forward to getting the season under way,” said Tofino Mayor Josie Osbourne.
It’s the first time back on the water for Jamie’s Whaling Station since tragedy struck one of their boat’s last fall.
It was last October that a giant wave broadsided the 65-foot Leviathan II.
24 passengers were thrown into the frigid water, six passed away.
“It has certainly brought us closer together. A tragedy does bring people closer together. People are standing strong and and hopeful that we have a safe season,” said Gord Johns, Tofino resident and Member of Parliament for Counrtenay-Alberni.
Now many here are wondering how all this will affect the local economy.
Whale watching is a 10 million dollar economic driver for the region.
But the mayor says that so far, bookings are as brisk as ever, “Bookings have been strong. Operators are telling me that they are already booking up well into summer.”
Meanwhile, the industry awaits a report from the Transportation Safety Board, which could shed more light on what happened that day, and recommend significant safety changes for whale watching operators.