Call it a humpback comeback.

Whale-watchers and researchers have noticed an increase in humpback whale sightings in the waters off of Vancouver Island, and some believe it's a sign that populations are bouncing back.

"We're seeing a steady and prolonged increase in humpback whales … in fact, all over the place, these animals are making a great recovery," John Ford, head of cetacean research with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' Pacific Biological Station, told All Points West host Robyn Burns.

"In fact, two humpbacks wandered into Departure Bay on Friday, just in front of my office. So they are coming back in many of the areas along the coast."

Ford says humpback numbers off the B.C. coast have been increasing for the last couple of decades, and in recent years they have been seen regularly in the Strait of Georgia.

In 1965, humpbacks were first protected from whaling, and there was an estimated 1,500 humpbacks in the North Pacific.

10 years ago, a study estimated that number could be up to about 20,000.

Ford says that while protection from whaling is the main cause of the population bounceback, the whales still face threats in B.C.'s waters from collisions with ships, pollution and underwater noise caused by shipping.

Still, he says the whales being seen are healthy specimens, and the population is "on a very steep growth curve."


To hear the full interview, click the audio labelled: Whale of a tale: humpbacks returning to B.C. waters