Island Mariner Cruises motto is “the first and still the best.”  And they have done it once again.  This Bellingham-based whale watching company is the first in the industry to have its own spotter plane.

Founded in 1962, Island Mariner was among the first charter boat operators in the Pacific Northwest.  In 1977, they were the first to offer whale watching charters.  In 1980, they were the first to offer scheduled whale watching trips.  In the 1990s, they were the first to offer guaranteed killer whale sightings.  They were founding members of both the Whale Watch Operators Association Northwest and SAFE, an organization that promotes Safe, Affordable, Fun, and Educational whale watching cruises.

And now they are the first with their own spotter plane.

“Most companies rely on spotters standing on the shore,” says owner and Captain Terry Buzzard.  “That works great when the whales are close to shore.  But if they’re out in the deep, you’ve got a problem.”

Buzzard went on to say, “No one makes a greater effort to show people our local killer whales.  It’s what sets us apart from the crowd.  We do everything in our power to make sure every single one of our passengers goes home happy.”

Painted in Northwest Coast Native American designs, the Cessna 180 gives passengers on the boat a real thrill and a tremendous opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime photo when it does a fly-by or lands on the water nearby.

Whale watching trips leave the Bellingham dock (just 2 miles from I-5) at 10:00 a.m. and return about 4:00 p.m.  The cost is just $75/person.  The 110-foot Island Caper is very comfortable and provides all passengers with both inside and outside seating.