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'Not what I wanted to find': Dead whale that washed up in B.C. will aid researchers


Warning: This story contains graphic photos.

A gruesome and awe-inspiring discovery was made in the frigid waters off northern Vancouver Island this weekend.

A bloated dead humpback whale was discovered on the coast of Malcolm Island, B.C., just north of Port McNeill.

The whale was found on Sunday during what was a usual drive for Andrew Pinch, a resident of Sointula, a village on Malcolm Island.

"I thought it was a rock," Pinch told CTV News. But the shape became clearer as he got closer.

"Oh my god, it is a dead whale," he can be heard saying on his vehicle dashcam.

The discovery, while sad, is also incredibly rare and valuable to researchers.

"So often dead whales sink to the bottom of the ocean whereby we lose the realities of how they died," said Jackie Hildering with the Marine Education and Research Society.

But something brought this whale here. The whale has been identified as "Spike," a humpback that was first spotted in B.C. waters in 2018.

Jackie Hildering is pictured with the whale body. (Marine Education and Research Society)

Hildering was the first one in the water to assess the whale.

The first order of business was to make sure Spike didn't float away.

"I was trying in the surf zone to get a rope around her tail," said Hildering.


The researcher says she's had time to study the humpback, and there's no obvious wounds on the surface.

"There's nothing on the outside of her body that suggests entanglement," said Hildering.

A full necropsy will be performed in the coming days, led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Marine Education and Research Society will also assist as needed.

The necropsy will hopefully reveal what caused the whale to die. Some options include disease or blunt force trauma – which is often caused by a vessel.

Cruise ships and commercial boats frequently pass by the area, and Hildering notes that all vessel collisions and entanglements have to be reported in Canada.

The deceased humpback whale is pictured. (Marine Education and Research Society)

Pinch did the right thing contacting officials, she says.

"It's not what I wanted to find," said the island resident.

And saying goodbye to an intelligent and spiritual animal is never something a community wants to do.

The Namgis First Nation will hold a cultural ceremony for the whale, which will also remind everyone involved of the appropriate weight of what must be done for the necropsy and other next steps, according to Hildering. Top Stories

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