A dead juvenile Humpback whale was seen floating in Hecate Cove at the east end of Quatsino Sept. 15 has been secured.
According to resident Gwen Hansen, a mother and calf had been spending a lot of time feeding just off Coal Harbour lately.
According to Hansen, her husband Andrew saw the calf Saturday morning at the east end of the Quatsino Narrows.
“He thought the calf could have been around over 20 feet long and was floating on its back,” Hansen said. There were no visible signs of injury.
“DFO working with Quatsino First Nations secured the animal Monday,” said DFO Marine Mammal Coordinator Paul Cottrell.
“They’re interested in the skeleton for social and ceremonial purposes,” Cottrell said.
A DFO team arrived Monday to take samples, photos and morphometrics “to see if we can determine cause of death and health status of the animal,” he said.
DFO lost sight of the calf for a while as it moved around with the tides.
DFO has had reports the mom is still around, “but that is not confirmed.”
The sooner they hear about a distressed or entangled animal, the quicker DFO can arrive to deal with the situation. “It’s so important to phone our 1-800-465-4336 24-hour marine mammal incident hotline.”
The death of humpbacks occur “much more often than we realize,” said Marine Education Research Society Education and Communications Director Jackie Hildering. When deaths occur out in the ocean, the animals sink to the bottom.
There was an unusually high mortality rate last year, Hildering said. The leading theory, is that with warming water you get red tide algae, which creates a biotoxin, a neurotoxin that can create paralysis, Hildering said.
The death “is a rare opportunity to learn.”