Have You Seen Any of These?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Grey Whales and other Sightings

For those lucky enough to have been in the Vancouver, BC – Lower Mainland - area the past few weeks the sighting whales and dolphins was a huge surprise.

The first report I heard of in the Lower Mainland area, was of Pacific White Sided Dolphins. Although the report came to me quite a bit after the fact, the sighting, close to the end of the Olympics, was of over 50 dolphins bow and wake riding a boat close to Bowen and Gambier Islands.

The next sighting report was all over the news. A Grey Whale, a gray whale if you use the American spelling, was near Squamish giving the locals a first hand look of it's blow (breathing spout) and mottled grey back.

Within a few days, on May 11th, another sighting came on the news of either another, or possibly the same, Grey Whale in False Creek, right downtown Vancouver. The Coast Guard was on had keeping an eye on the numerous boats wanting to take a look. The Granville Island ferry passengers had some of the best viewing opportunities, while the Coast Guard ran escort.

It has been many years since any whales ventured into that area. The last one I remember was in the late 1960's, and I believe it was a Grey not a Humpback Whale. I also recall a Pilot Whale breaching in False Creek. I believe that was in the 1980's and made the newspapers in full breach. You could fairly say that after all these year, I'm still hooked on whales.

Not too long after these reports, which had been dribbling in after the fact, I received a phone call of a possible blow having been spotted by Powell River. Although I went out on the water almost immediately, after a couple of hours in search of the elusive whale, I found nothing. It was only a couple of days ago that I ran into someone else who said that other people had seen blows the same time frame. They too couldn't specify direction or if, in fact, it was a whale.

The next reports were of approximately 150 Pacific White Sided Dolphins in Howe Sound. This is back to the area around Bowen and Gambier Islands. I have not heard how long they stayed in the vicinity, or where they went after that. They don't seem to be along the upper Sunshine Coast.

Some issues to do with whales and porpoises have also popped up this month. A dead newborn Orca / Killer Whale, with it's umbilical cord still attached, washed ashore south of Victoria, BC. Although it's estimated that around 40 percent of Orca calves die within the first year, it is rare for one to wash up on a beach. They usually sink before biologists can get a look at them.

Also in the Victoria and Sooke area only a few days after the dead Orca calf, eight Harbour, or Harbor Porpoises washed ashore. It's very unusual, if not unheard of, for Harbour Porpoises to strand themselves. These animals, including some pregnant females, appeared to have been in relatively good body condition.

It is possible that the Transient (meat eating) Orca / Killer Whales that have been around the area may have chased them to the breaking point of their bodies. As in one of my previous posts about the Transient Orca just outside Powell River, they sometimes don't eat their kill. It is quite disconcerting to have this many animals die virtually at once. Biologists are performing necropsies.

Please, if you see any marine mammal or sea turtle sick, injured, in distress or dead along the British Columbia coast, please call The Marine Mammal Incident Reporting Hotline at 1-800-465-4336

Just prior to posting this, I heard of a Humpback Whale northbound through Discovery Pass by Campbell River. Is this the same whale that some saw blows of?