May 30th - Hanging with a humpback near Vancouver
As we've mentioned before, we are THRILLED to have a growing population of humpback whales in the Salish Sea. Since being hunted to the brink of extinction for their oil, it has been a long and slow recovery for these gentle giants. This spring has shown promise for another season full of humpback whales!
On May 30th we had a gorgeous day on the Strait watching a shy humpback whale perform deep dives in a zig zag pattern near the mouth of the Fraser River. While we had the opportunity to photograph it's dorsal fin on both sides, it was reluctant to show us the underside of its fluke. We were still able to ID (with the help of other naturalists from other companies!) this whale as KEX0022, aka Corona!
Research has shown that humpback whales have a high site fidelity, meaning that they will often return to the same place they were seen in earlier years. Lucky for us, the Strait of Georgia has become somewhat of a hot spot for these whales to return to. Not only that, they've been bringing their calves here and now those calves are returning with their calves! Corona was sighted last year in our waters and was re-sighted earlier this month by our crew.
By monitoring humpback whale fluke patterns and dorsal fins, we have helped to contribute sightings data to a number of NGOs. Keta Coastal Conservation researches humpback whales in the Salish Sea and by monitoring sightings data have been able to track family lines of whales that are returning. For years we've been using killer whale family trees to identify pods and interpret behaviours... perhaps one day in the near future we will have some published humpback family trees to use as a resource!