Humpback whale sightings on the rise in B.C. waters

Whale watchers in Vancouver have been delighted with the number of humpbacks frequenting B.C. waters.

Humpback numbers in B.C. were once thought to be as low at 1,500 in the Pacific Northwest

The acrobatic humpback whale has been spotted in large numbers in places like Howe Sound this summer. (Vancouver Aquarium)

Humpbacks have been a frequent sighting in Vancouver waters this summer. The whale species has been spotted across a number of marine outlets including in the Strait of Georgia and Howe Sound.

"It's pretty exciting to be seeing humpbacks," said Caitlin Birdsall, a member of the Vancouver Aquarium's B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network.

"Their populations have really recovered in the last 20 to 30 years and as the numbers have increased, we're starting to see them more and more."

"They're a wonderful example of how wildlife populations can recover. At the end of commercial whaling in the North Pacific, we may have had as few as 1,500 animals left in the entire north pacific ocean. Now, about 8 years ago, there was about 20,000," Birdsall said.

There are a number of human-caused threats that the whales still face, such as being hit by boats in busy waters. The B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network tries to protect the whales when it can, by visiting sites they frequent, and warning boaters to be cautious.

Other threats to the humpback include entanglement, increases in ocean noise, and the impact of warmer ocean temperatures on their food sources.

Despite that, Birdsall says she's optimistic.

"It's great to see these numbers coming back, we just want to make sure the areas they're using in B.C. continue to be safe for them as well."

"I think humpback whales present a rare good-news story and I really want people to really enjoy seeing them and feel good that we protected these animals and they have come back."

To hear more, click the audio labelled: Humpbacks return to B.C. water, excite whale watchers.


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