Dead Humpback whales on B.C. coast stump scientists

Three others are from boat strikes.

Researchers say the first Humpback whale found dead on the British Columbia coast in early October washed up on Vancouver Island and probably died after being hit by a boat.

But then three more whales were found on the north coast of B.C.

Shanti Thurber, a researcher who works on Haida Gwaii, says it’s unusual to see this number of Humpbacks die in such a short period.

“Unfortunately, we have a strong indication that at least two of these deaths have been caused by vessel or ship strike,” she said. “Then the other one we haven’t confirmed yet. But it’s highly unusual within such a concentrated amount of time, it’s unusual to see this amount of deaths. Typically in a year, we will see five to 10 Humpback deaths.“

Two decades ago, the North Pacific Humpback whale population was considered a species at risk.

Thurber said the population has increased steadily since that time.

She added that whale mortality numbers are probably higher because they normally sink when they die.

Thurber said people on the water need to be aware of whales around them.

“As a boater or a recreational user or commercial fishery, just being aware of these whales sticking around for longer and a larger number of these whales being present.”

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