Sixteen-year-old KC was born to “Houdini” in 2002, has been hit by a boat leaving very distinctive scarring on his dorsal fin and has been entangled at least twice. Photo by Jackie Hildering, Marine Education & Research Society, photo taken under Marine Mammal Research Licence MML-42

Increase in humpback spotting comes with warning for boaters

A rare second chance is how Jackie Hildering sees the growing number of humpback whales sighted recently around British Columbia waters, and in the Comox/Campbell River area.

Hildering, the education director and humpback researcher for the Marine Education & Research Society (MERS), said their numbers show 85 humpbacks have been documented at some time in 2018 in the Comox/Campbell River area, 16 of which were also sighted around northeastern Vancouver Island.

MERS is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting conservation and understanding of marine ecosystems through scientific research and environmental education.

In a report released by the society Tuesday, numbers have increased from just seven individuals documented in northeastern Vancouver Island to 79 in 2018.

“In a world where we hear about so much loss, we get a second chance with these winged giants,” she said.

While the increase in humpbacks in the area is good, noted Hildering, she cautions it comes with concern as boat traffic in the area has increased significantly.

She said it is essential that boaters are aware of how to avoid collisions and what do to – and not do – if entanglement is witnessed.

Humpbacks are much more unpredictable than orcas which many boaters are accustomed to.

“Humpbacks are generally unaware of boats, and they do sometimes approach them. The best thing to do is to move away,” Hildering explained.

“Many boaters are conditioned to be aware of orcas – they’re like big dolphins and move along the surface of the water. Humpbacks do not have bio-sonar and dive much longer. They can suddenly appear at the surface; many people assume they move in a certain direction. Humpbacks are astonishingly oblivious of boats.”

One of the campaigns the society is undertaking is directed at boaters: See A Blow Go Slow. She added more boater awareness is needed.

In terms of sightings, Hildering noted she credits partners and the public for creating a collaborative approach in calculating humpback sightings. She suggests people who spot a humpback to take a photo to display as much of the fins and tail as possible.

“It can be extraordinarily easy or extraordinarily difficult to ID a humpback. It really depends on the distinguishing features.”

If they can see both dorsal fins and tails, it is possible to identify the humpback’s birth years and mother.



erin.haluschak@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Aftershock soccer tournament takes over Port Hardy fields

Around the clock matches were played in divisions ranging from tots to U18.

Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre’s 2018-2019 graduating class

The Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre is located on the Tsulquate reserve in the North Island.

Skin deep: A look inside the ink behind Beacon Tattoo

Patrick Berube, owner of Beacon Tattoo, spends most of his Tuesdays at… Continue reading

Second recreational cannabis shop opens its doors in Port Hardy

Pacificanna owner Darren Saunders was excited to finally see his family-run business open up shop.

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: A lone crow landing beside an eagle

“I saw an eagle just sitting there, but I had a feeling it wouldn’t be there long as I got closer”

VIDEO: Driver doing laps in busy Vancouver intersections nets charges

Toyota Camry spotted doing laps in intersection, driving towards pedestrians

B.C. Ferries vessel breaks down right before long weekend

Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route impacted most, revised schedule adds 4 a.m. sailings

Every situation is different, jurors hear at coroners inquest into Oak Bay teen’s overdose death

Pediatrician says involuntary treatment necessary following overdose, opioid use

Nanaimo man gets jail time for posting explicit photos of ex-girlfriends

Man’s name cannot be revealed to protect victims’ identities

North Island thrift store robbed at knifepoint, say RCMP

Suspect fled on bicycle following Tuesday stick-up

RCMP across Canada to soon unionize, according to B.C. mayor

A spokeswoman for RCMP headquarters in Ottawa says it’s not yet a done deal

Explicit sex-ed guide for adults mistakenly given to Creston elementary students

The booklet clearly states online and inside that the guide contains sexually explicit information

Driver has $240K McLaren impounded minutes after buying it in West Vancouver

Officers clocked the car travelling at 160 km/h along Highway 1 in a 90 km/h zone

Most Read