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Two Campbell River whale watching companies announce merger

Campbell River Whale Watching and Discovery Marine Safaris competitors no longer
Tyler Bruce (l-r) and Stephen Gabrysh, of Campbell River Whale Watching, with Wayne Garton and Heike Garton, of Discovery Marine Safaris. Photo courtesy Campbell River Adventure Tours Group.

Two local whale watching and wildlife tour companies, mainstays of Campbell River’s tourism industry, are merging.

Discovery Marine Safaris Ltd. and Campbell River Whale Watching Ltd., which both operate out of Campbell River, announced in a press release they merged on Feb. 2, 2022.

Founded in 2007, Discovery Marine Safaris is one of Campbell River’s original whale watching companies. Owners Heike and Wayne Garton are excited to enter a new phase in their lives, allowing them to do more adventuring and exploring of their own, per the news release.

“In making this big step after some 40 years of combined involvement in the whale watching and marine wildlife viewing industry on northern Vancouver Island, we are both happy to be handing over the helm of Discovery Marine Safaris to Stephen Gabrysh and Tyler Bruce, the owners of Campbell River Whale Watching,” said Heike.

“We could not just hand the company over and head off to enjoy our retirement and new adventures, without extending a heartfelt thank you, to our local community and industry partners for supporting us over the last 16 years. It has been an incredible and rewarding journey for us – we sincerely thank you for being a part of it.”

Campbell River Whale Watching and Adventure Tours was founded in 2008 with a single boat. Since then, it has developed a fleet of seven vessels. Gabrysh and Bruce purchased the company in 2018, and led it to become northern Vancouver Island’s first carbon-neutral eco-tour company.

The two companies have a long-standing relationship and have collaborated with mutual respect, sharing similar ethical and environmental values, per the release.

“We are thrilled that a number of the Discovery Marine Safaris team members will be staying on under the new ownership so that longstanding customers and industry partners will still be greeted by familiar faces,” said Gabrysh. “Their experience and industry knowledge will help ensure a smooth transition.”

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