Ryder Bell was riding his ATV on a remote Haida Gwaii beach at 10:30 p.m. Sunday when he came across an unfortunate sight — a dead humpback whale washed up on the sand.
Jackie Hildering is a humpback whale researcher and, in an interview with CHEK News, says she was saddened to hear of yet another deceased whale.
“So in the case of this humpback whale, we can see that he’s male,” said Hildering after receiving photos of the whale Monday.
“We can clearly see it’s an additional whale, we can actually see the bottom of the fluke to allow us to potentially be able to know who this whale was, but absolutely nothing can be said at this point about the cause of death.”
The latest whale was found near the northeast tip of Haida Gwaii in Naikoon Provincial Park and is the fourth humpback found dead on the B.C. coast in the last month.
The first one was found floating in the water off Wales Island north of Prince Rupert on Oct. 15, before another was discovered on the shores of Malcolm Island, where a full necropsy was completed on Oct. 26. The third one was found on northern Haida Gwaii last week.
“Seeing these dead whales is an opportunity to see how important reporting is,” added Hildering.
“This is a whale in a remote area. It is pure fluke that they found the whale. To know who to report to, the value of it, and to reflect on the causes of these deaths is important. It can’t be known what killed this whale, but two of the four were very, very likely caused by vessel strikes.”
She says the comeback of humpback whales in waters is a gift, but they and boaters are at risk as they often rest right below the surface.
“We can’t even say if there is an increase in the number of dead whales or not because so often, they don’t get reported or they sink to the bottom of the ocean,” said Hildering.
Anyone who observes, encounters or even hears about an incident is asked to call Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s 24-hour hotline at 1-800-465-4336.
There’s no word when a necropsy will be done on the latest whale.