Multiple Dead Humpback Whales – What you can do.

Last night, there was national reporting about the dead Humpback Whales found along BC’s coast.
See the link below.

With more Humpbacks along the coast, there is more overlap with fishing gear and vessel traffic and indeed: “Dead whales most often sink. So, as bad as the situation appears, it is likely worse.”

We are heartened that there has been this level of concern and have strived to speak about these whales as ambassadors.

See below for what you can do to increase whale and boater safety. Thank you.

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Summary of the known dead Humpback Whales:

1. October 12, 2022 – Dead Humpback #1. Floating near Lax Kw’alaams, northern BC.

2. October 15, 2022 – Dead Humpback seen floating from a distance near Wales Island. Presumed to be Whale #1. Colouration on the underside of the whale and location suggest this is likely.

3. October 23, 2022 – Dead Humpback #2 on the north side of Malcolm Island. We secured her body and identified her. She was Spike (BCX1847) a young female. Signs of blunt-force trauma.

4. November 5, 2022 – Dead Humpback #3 (male). Naikoon Provincial Park, Haida Gwaii To date we in the Canadian Pacific Humpback Collaboration have not been able to identify this individual. He is likely a previously undocumented Humpback. He has very distinctive markings allowing us to know this is not the same whale as dead Humpback #1. Signs of blunt-force trauma.

5. November 13, 2022 – Dead Humpback #4 (male). Naikoon Provincial Park, Haida Gwaii. This whale was in a further state of decay confounding the ability to ID who this might be. We were however able to conclude by comparing photos of a pectoral fin and underside of the body that this is not the same whale as dead Humpback #1.

6. November 20, 2022 – Dead Humpback #5 (3rd dead Humpback on East Beach, Haida Gwaii). Very decomposed but photos allowing us to compare the shape of the right pectoral fin to dead Humpback #1 lead us to believe this is an additional dead Humpback.

Note that there are currently at least 3 Humpback Whales known to be entangled along BC’s coast. This has been reported to the Incident Reporting Line 1-800-465-4336.

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What to do?

Know the laws and best practices to reduce the chance of collision, and what to do if you see entanglement, a dead marine mammal, violations or other incidents of concern. See www.SeeABlowGoSlow.org.

– If you are a coastal British Columbian, put the Incident Reporting Line number into your phone 1-800-465-4336.

– Model best boater behaviour including the use of the Whale Warning Flag in the waters of British Columbia and Washington State. See www.whaleflag.org.

– Use your voice for the other large whale species that is very vulnerable to vessel strike. Up to December 2nd you can weigh in that protection should not be reduced for Fin Whales when it is not known how many whales there are and threats are increasing. Please see our information at this link.

Use the Whale Report Alert System. See https://wildwhales.org/wras

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Please note that the source of the Humpback Whale population estimate used in last night’s news report is not known to BC’s Humpback Whale researchers. There have not been multi-year surveys to allow for an accurate / reliable population estimate.

There is one study (SPLASH) that led to the estimate that in 2006, the number of Humpback Whales along BC’s coast was 2,145 whales. This estimate did not include 1st-year calves nor Humpbacks in BC’s non-coastal waters.

A survey was done in 2018 (PRISMM) that will lead to another estimate for all of BC’s waters. But that will be based on one year of data and this was a year where whale presence / absence is likely to have been impacted by a marine heat wave.

CBC “The National” news coverage – www.cbc.ca/player/play/2122714691987

Great thanks to all who have helped raise awareness, especially the journalists who have reported with such understanding.

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