In 2011, dental technician Jos Krynen (53) made a change and emigrated to Canada. He ended up on Vancouver Island, near the Discovery Islands, and started Eagle Eye Adventures, a whale watching company. He is also a particularly talented photographer. His models include orcas, humpback whales, sea lions, eagles and bears.
Jos Krynen, wildlife
How long have you been shooting, Jos?
“I’ve been photographing since I was 12, when I got a used Nikkormat camera for my birthday. I picked up the camera and never put it down again, proverbially. In the meantime, I’m even teaching in photography at North Island College in Campbell River.”
What’s the most beautiful picture you’ve ever took?
“I don’t really have a best picture, but if I have to choose one, it’s ‘Butter-Ball’ the large grizzly bear on this page. This was the most beautiful picture, but not my most spectacular wildlife experience. That was when we were looking at two humpback whales with the zodiac. They dived about 150 meters away from us, and surfaced again after 15 minutes at 30 centimeters of the boat. Wow, so beautiful and sooo cool. They kept swimming around the boat for a whole hour, so we were able to see them well… and they us!”
Where were most pictures taken?
“The area where we work is called The Discovery Islands, a spectacular archipelago in the Inside Passage: between Campbell River, the north-central Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada.
Quadra Island and Cortes Island are the most famous of the Discovery Islands and home to most residents. The warm, temperate climate, the spectacular scenery, the abundance of flora and fauna, the quiet lifestyle and endless recreation opportunities throughout the year make the Discovery Islands a very sought after place to live and visit.”
Jos, are you a dentist, marine biologist, tour operator or photographer?
“In the Netherlands I was a clinical dental technician, but there the rules became stricter and I was looking for a life with fewer rules. Together with my wife Rentia I looked forward to a new life close to nature and then Canada is a logical choice. Where not so many people live on top of each other, there are not so many rules needed either. Three months before we left for Canada, I got a call from a friend who said Eagle Eye Adventures was for sale, a whale watching company. Together we looked at the website and decided to make a bid via the Internet, without being there, but simply by viewing four photos and a summary description. Then I went to bed, because there is nine hours of time difference and the next morning I look in my mailbox and I see that the bid has been accepted… Holy crap!!! Rentia and I always had the dream of doing something in tourism. So that part happened now.
And then you suddenly realize that you own a whale watching company
I bought a ticket right away, flew to Canada and went to look at the company. Then you realize that you suddenly own a whale watching company and you have no idea how, what and where to start. You arrive as a stranger in the middle of the season, no transfer. Only a key and the words: “Good luck!”. We ran the company and at the end of the season took stock of what had actually bought. The first year a lot of money was put in and also lost. But, I’m used to working hard and did everything I could to steer the company in the right direction. Now we’re about eight years further. We have five boats, three zodiacs and two covered ships, and twelve staff. All nature lovers in a super cozy company. We’re a big family. Because of my wildlife photography, there are a lot of visitors. The images are often shared on the internet and our company reaps the benefits of it. In the meantime, we have over 48,000 followers on Facebook and about 10,000 on Instagram.”
But you’re a also marine biologist now?
“After my emigration to Canada, I studied marine biology at the University of Oxford in England. Protecting the whales is very important to me and the situation of the whale that came up next to the boat is really an exception. We have rules and we stick to that, 200m away from the killer whales and 100m from the humpback whales. All boats have range finders, which allow you to measure the distance perfectly, so no discussion is possible.
But yes, every once in a while you have whales that don’t stick to the rules and that of course produces beautiful unexpected situations. Sometimes it’s quite a challenge because in recent seasons we’ve had no less than eighty-nine different humpback whales in our region.
It is an honour for us to sail here, and we pay the national parks fee with great pride. Our boats are so modified that they emit few exhaust gases, and when we’re at wildlife, the engine is switched off. This way we disturb nature as little as possible.”
We were looking at two humpback whales. They surfaced again after 15 minutes at 30 centimeters of the boat
What is that label next to your logo?
“Because of our commitment and range finders, we were noticed by the World Cetacean Alliance, run by Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter. They promote safe whale watching all over the world. Eagle Eye Adventures is the world’s first company receive the certificate ‘responsible whale watching company’ by the WCA, something we are very proud of. We are trying to encourage fellow companies to do the same. Per guest, we contribute an amount to the WCA for the conservation of wildlife in our region.
We lay with the zodiac to look at two humpback whales. They dived about 150 meters from us, and came up again after 15 minutes at 30 centimeters of the boat. Wow, so beautiful and sooo cool.
Are you going to shoot this Eagle?
A whale watching safari in the Discovery Islands archipelago and the photo trip to toba Inlet’s grizzly bears are considered the biggest highlights of a stay on Vancouver Island. Join us and contribute to the protection of the whales.