Entangled whale rescued off Vancouver Island returns with new calf

Entangled whale rescued off Vancouver Island returns with new calf

A humpback whale that was entangled in prawning gear off Vancouver Island nearly two years ago has returned to the Salish Sea with a new calf in tow.

In October 2022, Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response team was called to the waters near Texada Island, east of Courtenay, for a report of an entangled whale.

What followed was a dramatic rescue that was captured on camera, offering an up-close look at an operation that’s rarely seen by the public.

The DFO said it received a flurry of calls about the whale, which appeared to be wrapped in a 300-foot (91-metre) rope and large buoy used for prawn catching.

Community members, commercial tug operators, BC Ferries captains, RCMP officers and fisheries officers kept the DFO appraised of the whale’s condition and location until the Marine Mammal Response team arrived.

Once the team arrived, they pulled up alongside the whale, which was accompanied by other humpbacks, and used hooks to pull up the fishing gear.

The video shows rescuers cheering as the freed whale swims away.

A proud mother

Now, roughly a year and a half later, that same humpback whale that was rescued has been spotted in the Salish Sea with a new calf, according to the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA).

The PWWA says that whale that was rescued, identified as BCY0946, or “Slits,” travelled to common humpback mating grounds just months after the rescue and recently finished a nearly one year long pregnancy.

“…Slits returned to the Salish Sea this season with a little calf in tow!” wrote the PWWA in a social media post Wednesday.

“Michael Kurbatoff of Prince of Whales Whale Watching photographed the energetic baby earlier this month.”

Watch the October 2022 rescue below:

With files from CHEK’s Ethan Morneau

Adam ChanAdam Chan

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