Photos of the tail of a dead Humpback whale helped identify the carcass as that of Hawkeye. (Photo contributed by Shoreline Photography/Eagel Wing Torus/Pacific Whale Watch Association)

Humpback carcass off coast of Vancouver Island identified as Hawkeye

Ship strikes take toll on whale populatin

A dead humpback whale spotted in the Strait of Juan de Fuca last Wednesday brings the total to four of the iconic creatures lost in the past two years.

A report of the carcass of a humpback floating in the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Sept. 30 was confirmed as Hawkeye (MMX0094). It had been spotted and photographed alive and well as recently as Sept. 22 off of Otter Point west of Sooke.

“It was very sad to see,” Val Shore, a professional naturalist with Victoria-based Eagle Wing Tour, said in a media release. “We circled slowly around the whale to get photos from all angles, looking for signs of injury or entanglement. We couldn’t see anything obvious.”

READ ALSO: Second calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Fortunately, Shore was able to get good photos of the underside of the whale’s flukes, which enabled the whale to be identified. Markings on the underside of Humpback whale’s tails such as barnacle scars, tooth rakes, scratches and unique colourization distinguish whales from one another. That provides researchers with the information that has enabled them to catalogue hundreds of whales in the Salish Sea. The identifying photos were shared immediately with marine mammal authorities with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as well as with humpback researchers in the region. Professional Whale Watch Association members routinely share unusual sighting information as part of a collaborative effort.

Not much is known about the young male Hawkeye since he was first catalogued in 2016. His death raises the possibility that Hawkeye may have been struck by a vessel, although that cannot be confirmed until the carcass is examined and a necropsy has been completed. There is that concern, however, because the whale was found in busy shipping lanes, and strikes by vessels are on the rise as shipping traffic, predominantly out of the ports of Vancouver, Seattle and Tacoma, increases in the region.

READ ALSO: Mother orca that carried her dead calf for 17 days gives birth again

A Washington State Ferry (WSF) struck and presumably killed a humpback whale while leaving Elliott Bay in Seattle in 2019, and a second humpback was killed by a WSF vessel on July 6 of this year. Two more dead humpback were found this summer as well.

Hawkeye’s carcass was last spotted floating in Clallum Bay along the interior coast of Washington State. Anyone who sees the carcass in Canadian waters is asked to contact the Fisheries and Oceans Canada at 1-604-240-3841. Call the Stranding Network Hotline at 1-866-767-6114 to report deceased whales in U.S. waters.

Significant efforts are underway throughout the maritime community on both sides of the border to reduce the number of strikes. Learn more at pacificwhalewatchassociation.com.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazete.com

Whales

 

The carcass of a dead Humpback whale was spotted on Sept. 30 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. (Photo contributed by Shoreline Photography/Eagle Wing Tours/Pacific Whale Watch Assoiciation)

Just Posted

Police executed a search warrant at a residence on Nicol Street in September 2017 in relation to a murder investigation. John Albert Buchanan was charged with second-degree murder. (News Bulletin file)
Murder trial begins in case of man who was beaten and died in Nanaimo’s south end

John Albert Buchanan charged with second-degree murder after 2017 incident on Nicol Street

RCMP
Police appeal to ‘sense of right and wrong’ in fatal Campbell River assault

RCMP know of witnesses to Oct. 15 attack; want them to come forward

B.C. Ferries has a mandatory mask policy on vessels and at terminals. (News Bulletin file photo)
UPDATE: No tickets for anti-maskers on B.C. Ferries

West Van Police say their intention was to ‘keep the peace’ after being called to terminal

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020. (B.C. NDP photo)
Horgan fishes with Cowichan elders at Cowichan Valley campaign stop

B.C. premier talks mental health and addictions, universal income

A jail cell at the Nanaimo RCMP detachment. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman reports she was injured by Nanaimo RCMP while being jailed

Independent Investigations Office of B.C. looking into Oct. 1 incident

A 23-foot sailboat that broke free from its anchor was smashed against Cattle Point during the early October south-easterly storms. (Ron Geezin Photo)
Storm-smashed boat pulled off rocks of Cattle Point in Oak Bay

Sailboat a casualty of last week’s big storms

Local New Democrat Zeb King welcomed Premier John Horgan during a brief photo opportunity in Sidney Monday afternoon (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
NDP leader John Horgan predicts party will ‘flip’ Saanich North and the Islands

Incumbent MLA Adam Olsen calls Horgan’s claim ‘bold’

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. sees record-breaking daily COVID infections with 499 new cases over weekend

Two people, both in the Lower Mainland, died due to the virus over the weekend

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

Passengers seated in rows five to 11 on WestJet flight 195 on Oct. 10 may have been exposed to COVID-19. (Black Press File Photo)
UPDATE: COVID-19 exposure reported on WestJet flights two days in a row

The BCCDC is cautioning people who flew from Calgary to Victoria Oct. 19 and 11

Most Read