Members of the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network thought they were being fed a fishy tale last week after a member of the public contacted them to report a fin whale sighting near Nanaimo.
These giant creatures are second in size only to the blue whale, and are rare everywhere as a Species at Risk, but it was especially unusual to hear of one in these waters.
The observer included a photo with their sighting and staff at the BCCSN were able to confirm the first ever sighting of a fin whale in the Strait of Georgia. This sighting was soon followed by others, and the team was able to track the whale’s journey north to the Johnston Strait.
Fins have been spotted in the Johnstone Strait area in August this year, as well as September last year, but this one was the first to be sighted in Georgia Strait waters.
Fin whales are still considered threatened in Canada, but their numbers appear to be on the rise. These giant baleen whales can reach 90 feet in length, and are starting to make a comeback after their numbers were decimated by hunting in the 20th century.
Although they are no longer hunted in Canadian waters, the whales are at risk from collisions with ships, as evidenced when a cruise ship entered the Port of Vancouver in 2009 with a fin whale impaled on its bow. The species appears to be particularly vulnerable to ship strikes, although why this should be is unclear.
The number of fins in B.C. waters is another example of information that remains unknown about these giant mammals but the public can get involved with this while painting a picture of distribution and migratory routes by reporting whale sightings. You can report a sighting through the www.wildwhales.org website or by calling 1 866 I SAW ONE.