Ocular still shows the scars but has been healing this past year. Photo courtesy of Peter Hamilton/Lifeforce

Healed and healthy, Ocular the humpback returns to Vancouver Island waters

A year after injuries drew widespread attention, whale spotted near Comox again

Ocular the injured whale has returned to Vancouver Island waters.

A year ago, Peter Hamilton of Lifeforce Ocean Friends noticed the juvenile humpback off of Cape Lazo near Comox.

At the time, he took photos of the whale. Ocular had a severe injury along the spine, though Hamilton was not sure of the cause of the injury, figuring it could be from entanglement with fishing lines or from a boat propeller.

This year, on June 30, Hamilton was again out taking photos in the same area and saw the familiar creature.

“I was out there ID’ing other humpbacks, then I saw this smaller one, and I thought, ‘I wonder is that Ocular?’ … then I hear this blow, and Ocular is circling the boat,” he said.

The whale circled the boat once, then left.

“Maybe Ocular was checking out the boat that he or she saw last year,” he said.

Hamilton says the whale was born, first seen and named in 2016. As no one had reported any entanglements, he thought a boat propeller was the cause of the injury.

RELATED STORY: Injured humpback whale spotted near Comox

At the time, he worked with Jackie Hildering of the Marine Education and Research Society (MERS) to identify the nature of Ocular’s injury.

“It appears to be due to fishing gear entanglement,” he said. “That was a deep cut.”

The injuries ran down the back and near the fluke. Ocular seems to be on the mend, though, over this past year.

“It definitely healed, but certainly it’s still visible,” he said.

Hamilton figures the humpback returns south to spend winter in waters off Hawaii or Mexico. He has also talked to Hildering about where the creature might go, but they cannot be sure as they do not work with observers in those locations.

“Sometimes it’s hard to coordinate everything. You don’t have people on the other end,” he said.

In any case, the creature seems keen on heading back to this area.

“I thought it was an interesting coincidence with, like, timing. Ocular seems to like this area and arrived back about the same time he or she was here last year … in pretty well the exact location,” he said.

Hamilton underscores the need for some public education here when it comes to keeping a safe distance from whales. He said there has been confusion since the federal government has brought in new regulations, but he adds it is important to be up to date on these. Ideally, if one is swimming toward you, try to move away, to avoid their becoming habituated to humans, but if it surfaces nearby, be patient and let the whale move through the area. Humpbacks may be curious, but interactions can prove dangerous both to whales and humans.

“Sometimes curious whales will approach, but it is illegal to instigate it,” Hamilton added.

Just Posted

West Coast company brings virtual whale watching experience to youth with disabilities

About 40 Easter Seals BC/Yukon children, youth and adults with disabilities were… Continue reading

Saanich woman completes 10 marathons, raises double her initial goal amount

Over $20,000 raised for Victoria Hospitals Foundation

Meet Chewy, Ladysmith’s Turf Kitty

Independent feline has carved out his own special territory in town’s sports field

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Protesters in Nanaimo call for greater protection of old-growth forests

Extinction Rebellion organized rally at Maffeo Sutton Park on Saturday afternoon

Protesters in Nanaimo call for greater protection of old-growth forests

Extinction Rebellion organized rally at Maffeo Sutton Park on Saturday afternoon

NHL playoffs: Canucks to meet St. Louis Blues in Round 1

Vancouver takes on defending champs beginning Wednesday

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

Oyster River department battles Black Creek house fire

UPDATED: House experiences extensive damage, no one inside at the time

Vancouver Island RCMP warn of ongoing frauds

Here are some of the more common scams to be aware of

North Island College ready for a virtual fall semester

“It’s a really good time to be a student.”

Turf replacement installed at Oak Bay High

New Astroturf will be ready for school, sports still cancelled

Poetry contest started for Vancouver Island poets

“We’re such a unique group,” says founder on why she wanted to start the collective

Most Read