Nfld. & Labrador

'It's pretty rare', says DFO scientist of humpback whale in St. John's harbour

A research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says it's unusual to see a humpback whale all the way in the St. John's harbour.

'I'm hoping the reason it's coming in is perhaps because the waters are cleaner now': Jack Lawson

DFO scientist Jack Lawson says the whale was spotted gliding through the water in the Narrows in St. John's Sunday was a humpback. (Jef Combdon/Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism)

A research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says it's far from common to see a humpback whale all the way in the St. John's harbour.

People in St. John's spotted a whale inside the Narrows on Sunday evening.

"It's pretty rare," Jack Lawson told CBC's St. John's Morning Show.

"This is pretty deep for a humpback to come in amongst all the potential shipping traffic."

I'm hoping the reason it's coming in is perhaps because the waters are cleaner now.- Jack Lawson

Lawson said when he was a graduate student in the 1990s, a humpback was spotted around the small boat basin, near the mouth of the harbour.

However, he does not remember seeing one come this deep into the harbour.

While he doesn't know why the whale ventured so far into the harbour, Lawson hopes it means good things.

"I'm hoping the reason it's coming in is perhaps because the waters are cleaner now with a treatment plant in place," said Lawson.

A humpback whale was spotted in St. John's harbour Sunday evening. Photos taken from the Battery were sent to Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism's Facebook page. (Jef Combdon/Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism)

"I have a research boat we keep in the small boat basin and in the last few years I've noticed a significant improvement in the smell and appearance of the water there, so perhaps that's brought fish in — and the whale, as well."

Lawson added it is good the whale left the area, rather than risk getting caught in boat traffic.

"I was glad to see that it apparently left the area. There was also, I gather, a minke whale right at the entrance to Quidi Vidi harbour as well, so it seems we've got quite a few whales earlier than usual and in close to shore."

Lawson hopes this signals a good and early start to the province's whale watching season.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show