WATCH: It’s an incredible survival story of an animal hunted to near extinction. Humpback whales began reappearing in our waters in the late 1990s and this summer they are showing up in numbers never before. Monica Martinez reports.
It’s a sunny, calm day for whale watching, and a group from Prince of Whales is hoping for a wild adventure.
Marine biologist and whale watching guide Rhonda Reidy said it is an exciting time to be out on the water. Not only are there killer whales swimming about, but there are large groups of humpbacks.
“It’s an incredible story of survival for these humpbacks. When I first started guiding trips there were no humpbacks in these waters,” she said.
The animals were hunted to near extinction, wiping out 95 per cent of the world’s humpback population. After the ban on commercial whaling in 1966, they didn’t return to B.C. waters until the late 1990s.
Over the past few years, crews have been spotting a handful of humpbacks in any one spot, but this year, there are unprecedented sightings with as many as 15 or 20 together.
“This is incredible what we are witnessing. We haven’t had this many humpback whales in close proximity to each other ever in almost 20 years that I’ve been going out,” she said.
On this trip, a group of humpbacks surround our boat. It includes a six month old calf, whose curiousity brings it just metres from us, delighting whale watchers.
“It was a great experience. We were just hoping to see some whales so to see some and be right amongst them was wonderful, it was awesome,” said whale watcher Arnold Entz.
“It was cool to see all of them and to be surrounded by them, it was pretty amazing,” said Maria Rheidt.
Reidy said these days it is more common to spot a humpback than a southern resident killer whale, proving humpbacks have not just comeback, they are here with a vengeance.