Vancouver Aquarium veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena was on site in White Rock, B.C. this morning to examine a beached young humpback whale. Upon arrival, Dr. Haulena did not notice any signs of life, leading him to believe that the whale had been dead for several hours.
The beached whale had lacerations on its body that are indicative of rope entanglement. It was severely emaciated and had probably not eaten properly in a long time. The state of nutrition of the whale and scars from the gear suggest that the animal was entangled for weeks, or months.
Humpback whales are making a comeback in their numbers along the West Coast of British Columbia. Although still considered an at-risk species due to the over-hunting that ended in the 1960s, the population is now doing better.
A humpback whale sighting had been reported to Vancouver Aquarium’s B.C. Cetaceans Sighting Network from the Tsawwassen ferry last week. Staff will now try to identify the whale that was spotted to see if it is the same whale that washed up this morning. DNA samples were taken from the animal by the Aquarium for further testing.
In collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Vancouver Aquarium’s B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network collects data on cetaceans and sea turtles in British Columbia. Public sightings are reported by residents, boaters and professionals and are used to inform research, conservation and recovery actions. You can report your sighting to 1 866 I SAW ONE, www.wildwhales.org or [email protected].
If you see a stranded animal, please call the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604.258.SEAL (7325) for immediate assistance.