British Columbia

Humpbacks whales making a return to B.C. waters

Researchers say they are seeing growing numbers of humpback whales in B.C. waters.

Humpback population has been “on a very steep growth curve,” researcher says

Humpback whale populations have been increasing since they were protected in 1965.

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


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?