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

Port McNeill Library release five-year plan

VIRL recently released its vision and operating plan for 2020 through to 2024/25.

Port Hardy awarded ‘Level 4’ recognition by Green Communities Committee

District awarded Level 4 recognition - ‘Achievement of Carbon Neutrality’.”

Port McNeill to move forward with Downtown Improvement Initiative

Council voted to backstop the project by allocating up to an additional $10,000.

Fire Prevention Week kicks off in the North Island at Storey’s Beach Fire Hall

The open house proved to be quite popular with youth and families.

Port McNeill staff and RDMW Chair talk live-streaming meetings

“I welcome any opportunity and mechanism we have to make local government more transparent”

VIDEO: Langley woman’s security camera records its own theft

Langley family discovers early morning grab was recorded

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Map on Elections Canada website sends Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters to landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

BC Children’s Hospital launches 2 new virtual care sites bringing total to 19 across province

Provincial initiative allows pediatric patients to see health specialists through video

‘Wham-bam out the door’: Surrey man’s front yard left ruined by scamming landscaper

Resident warns neighbours to be careful of door-to-door salesmen

Most Read