This fin whale

This fin whale

Rare, whale of a sighting

The second largest animal to ever live on the planet made a surprise visit to our waters recently.

The second largest animal to ever live on the planet made a surprise visit to our waters recently.

A pair of fin whales — which have never been seen in the Johnstone Strait — were spotted in the Robson Bight area Sept. 19.

“I think we saw them now because of the fact the population is increasing,” said Jared Towers, of the Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The fins were heavily hunted decades ago and the population was quite low. In fact the fin whale is still on the “threatened” population list.

“It’s likely they’re still expanding their range,” said Towers, who noted there’ve been reports of fin whales in local waters before.

“Most people weren’t able to provide a photograph, but when they did it definitely turned out to be minke whales,” he said.

Towers was notified of the fins by Marie Fournier — at the Orca Lab at Cracroft Point outpost — who made the first sighting of the pair of fin whales, an adult and what was probably a young juvenile or maybe an older calf.

But it turned out Towers already knew one of the whales.  “The adult is an individual I photographed off the west side of Aristazabal Island in August 2010 during an encounter with over 40 individuals,” he said.

The whales are identified by their dorsal fins and marks on the whales’ flanks.