Juvenile grey whale caught on camera in Nanoose Bay
NANOOSE BAY -- A Parksville photographer has captured some stunning images of a grey whale that has been hanging out in the community of Nanoose Bay over the past several days.
Patrick Roycroft says while he's photographed whales before, this is his first opportunity to see a grey whale so close, and from the air.
"I spent a lot of summers waiting for them to come by, but this was the first time that I got lucky enough. It helped that the whale was hanging out for about three hours," Roycroft says.
The commercial photographer was able to fly his licensed drone high over the whale during its multi-day stay in the area.
"I've found that sea lions and whales, they pay no attention to what's going on in the sky above them. As soon as I got it up there, I could tell right away that the lighting was good, I could see through the water, so I said 'wow' a lot as I was pressing the button," he says.
Several other individuals also photographed and shot videos of the whale and posted them to social media.
Whale researcher and Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist emeritus Dr. John Ford says grey whales normally travel along the west side of Vancouver Island during their migration between Alaska and Baja California.
"It's great to see them in close to shore like that, they're a wonderful whale to observe from shore because they like shallow water," Ford says.
He believes the whale was in Nanoose Bay feeding and says greys like to feed off the bottom of the ocean.
"They can stay sometimes for a couple of months, especially in places like Boundary Bay near White Rock, several grey whales typically feed there," he says.
He says it's rare for greys to come along the eastern shores of Vancouver Island, adding that this juvenile will likely head south towards the bottom of Vancouver Island before continuing it's journey towards Alaska along the west side of the island.
"They're exploring new habitat, they're not set in their ways so they turn up in strange places like this," Ford says.