Rare marine mammals sighted in Salish Sea
The Salish Sea has been alive with rare cetaceans lately. Risso’s dolphins were sighted Friday near Nanaimo in the Strait of Georgia, and last week a fin whale was spotted foraging for food near a popular beach in North Seattle.
The Risso’s dolphins were first seen Thursday morning in the waters off Campbell River and again later in the afternoon near Nanoose. Almost a dozen of the dolphins were observed to be travelling south in Strait of Georgia near Nanaimo Friday morning.
“They’re a very gregarious species and often they can travel in groups of 50 to 100 or so,” said John K.B. Ford, research scientist emeritus at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Pacific Biological Station Nanaimo.
“They’re found mostly in warmer waters like off California.”
Ford says in the summer months the Risso’s dolphins can be spotted off the west coast of Vancouver Island and near Haida Gwaii. He says they are rarely found in the inshore waters of Vancouver Island, especially in the Strait of Georgia.
“The last sighting that I’m aware of is a series of sightings in August and September 1978,” said Ford. “This is the first series of sightings in the Strait of Georgia since the late 1970s.”
Ford says the Risso’s dolphin is large and is sometimes called a “small whale.” They have a very distinctive look. He says as they age, they get more white in colour and appear to have “teeth rakes” all over their bodies, which makes them unique.
“This is quite unusual to see them and this time of year and to see them in the Strait of Georgia,” said Ford. “They’re not a very common species for British Columbia generally because they’re found mostly further off shore and rarely come to inside-waters.”
Ford says the dolphins he saw near Nanaimo Friday appeared to be healthy animals and were behaving normally. How they came to be in the strait is unclear.
“Probably they came down through the north end of Vancouver Island through Johnson Strait,” said Ford. “We left them heading south and no doubt they’ll be seen again in the coming days.”
Ford says he’s not sure where the Risso’s will end up, but he hopes they continue through Juan de Fuca Strait and go back to California.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen them in the Strait of Georgia (and) it’s just a real treat to be able to watch them,” said Ford. “They looked in great shape, healthy, so for such a rare event it’s just a fascinating thing to witness.”
The sighting of the Risso’s dolphins hasn’t been the only sighting of a rare cetacean in the Salish Sea this month. From Jan. 9 to 16 a fin whale was spotted foraging for food in the waters off a popular beach in North Seattle.
The confirmed sighting of the fin whale is so rare that it is only the third time the species has been seen in Puget Sound since 1930.
“Fin whales are a lot more common off-shore, but in coastal waters they are still quite rare, especially in Puget Sound,” said Bay Cetology director Jared Towers.
“Fin whales travel long distances and they need to move around in open waters,” he said. “In coastal waters, they may be prone to attacks from killer whales.”
Towers says that the large cetaceans are also likely to be hit by ships if they remain in coastal waters.
“Almost half of the fin whale sightings in costal waters off southern B.C. and northern Washington unfortunately have been of dead fin whales,” said Towers. “One thing that is for certain, the population is increasing and as it’s increasing we’re more likely to see a few here and there in coastal waters.”
Towers says the fin whale is a threatened species in Canada and is still recovering after the numbers of whales were greatly diminished by the whaling industry of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“There were literally thousands taken by whalers in the late 1800s and early 1900s,” said Towers.
The fin whale can reach lengths of more than 27 metres and can weight as much as 74 tonnes. It is the second largest animal on earth after the blue whale.
Despite their size, fin whales are sometimes prey for killer whales. Fin whales are baleen whales that feed primarily on krill and occasionally small fish.
With only three confirmed sightings of the massive cetacean in the Salish Sea in more than 90 years, the sighting in Puget Sound is rare. Though the animal hasn’t been spotted in Puget Sound for a number of days, it could still be in the area.
“It’s January, there’s not a lot of people on the water compared to the summer time, this fin whale could be anywhere in Juan de Fuca Strait or Puget Sound (and) it’s only a matter of time before it’s seen again,” said Towers. “It also could’ve just as easily swam back out Juan de Fuca Strait and is back in offshore waters.”
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The white gunman accused of massacring 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarket wrote as far back as November about staging a livestreamed attack on African Americans, practiced shooting from his car and travelled hours from his home in March to scout out the store, according to detailed diary entries he appears to have posted online.
Pierre Poilievre is denouncing the 'white replacement theory' believed to be a motive for a mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., as 'ugly and disgusting hate-mongering.'
A driver who struck and killed a woman and her three young daughters nearly two years ago 'gambled with other people's lives' when he took the wheel, an Ontario judge said Monday in sentencing him to 17 years behind bars.
Half of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 still experiencing at least one symptom two years later: study
Half of those hospitalized with COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic are still experiencing at least one symptom two years later, a new study suggests.
A former police officer, the 86-year-old mother of Buffalo's former fire commissioner, and a grandmother who fed the needy for decades were among those killed in a racist attack by a gunman on Saturday in a Buffalo grocery store. Three people were also wounded.
Ontario’s four main party leaders were relatively civil as they spared at Monday night’s televised election debate in Toronto.
The rising cost of living is worrying Canadians and defining the Ontario election as prices go up on everything from groceries to gas.
Facing daily instances of violence and abuse, gender diverse people in the Canadian prison system say they are forced to take measures into their own hands to secure their safety.
A racist ideology seeping from the internet's fringes into the mainstream is being investigated as a motivating factor in the supermarket shooting that killed 10 people in Buffalo, New York. Most of the victims were Black.
A Vancouver dad whose son is on the autism spectrum took to social media to share how painful it was to see only one classmate at his birthday party. Now, he's receiving a flood of support that he hopes marks the start of an important conversation.
A Metro Vancouver food bank program that provides fresh groceries to people in need is serving 10 times more families than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
British Columbia Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon said that if elected premier he would halt plans to build a new Royal B.C. Museum, calling it a “billion-dollar vanity project” after he took his seat in the legislature.
The Alberta man accused of first-degree murder in the deaths of a 24-year-old woman and her 16-month-old child is due in court on Monday.
Community members and councillors weighed in on a newly proposed safety and well-being plan crafted by administration to make Edmonton the safest city in Canada by the end of the decade.
Officers performed a vehicle takedown in northeast Edmonton Monday afternoon to end a "short" police chase.
Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford faced a barrage of attacks from the other three major party leaders in the Ontario election debate Monday.
An Ontario landlord who says he's exhausted his savings and credit after his tenants allegedly stopped paying rent six months ago is frustrated he has no power to evict them.
Calgary police said in a statement issued Monday they have identified a suspect wanted in an incident that resulted in the death of a Calgary mother of five.
Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk weren't even born the last time the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they still understand how much the Battle of Alberta means to fans of both teams.
Kids at St. Alphonsus elementary and junior high won't be able to continue in the school's long standing Italian language and culture program in September.
Who are Quebec's English-speakers in 2022, anyway? A new study shows they're young, extremely ethnically diverse -- and are struggling in the workforce, with higher unemployment and lower income than French-speakers.
Quebec coroner calls for independence in public health director role in final report on long-term care home deaths
The government of Quebec needs to ensure the role of the public health director is independent and without any 'political constraint,' a Quebec coroner has recommended in a final report into deaths at long-term care homes during the pandemic's first wave.
As moving season approaches, the ongoing housing crisis is on the minds of many Montrealers seeking a new place to live.
The RCMP's treatment of their tactical team in the days following the April 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia was characterized as "absolutely disgusting" Monday during testimony before the public inquiry examining the killings.
The mother of an Indigenous woman shot by New Brunswick police in 2020 told a coroner's inquest Monday that less than two hours after she was awakened by an officer seeking her daughter's address to check on her safety, police returned with news that her daughter had been killed.
The emergency department at the Glace Bay Hospital has been closed since July of 2021, and it’s unclear when it will reopen.
Sex workers are raising concerns about a proposed law aimed at cracking down on human traffickers who use short-term rentals, saying the move could make things less safe for them.
Some busy beavers have been taking a toll on a Winnipeg neighbourhood's tree canopy, prompting a group of residents to work with the city to save the trees.
With the heavy rain Winnipeg has received, many homeowners are finding cracks in their foundations undetected during the previous two years of drought.
The Waterloo Regional Police Service has released the name of a man they say could have information on the suspicious death of an eight-year-old boy in Cambridge.
Police are looking for a driver involved in a hit and run collision in Kitchener that sent a cyclist to hospital with serious injuries.
The Kitchener Rangers' playoff run came to end over the weekend and the team is reflecting on their up-and-down OHL season.
Regina Mayor Sandra Masters met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on Monday to discuss a number of topics including ongoing infrastructure projects and social initiatives.
Saskatoon intensive care physician Dr. Hassan Masri says he has taken a leadership role in Ontario.
The wind blowing against the uprights was the only action at Griffths Field in Saskatoon Monday morning as the league enters day two of the work stoppage.
Barrie businessman Paul Sadlon, 89, walked alongside his lawyer into a courtroom to stand trial on Monday, accused of sexually assaulting a woman following a business meeting nearly three years ago.
A truck rollover on Highway 400 south of Newmarket is causing major delays Monday, according to provincial police.
Many people who contracted COVID-19 during the sixth wave complained of lasting symptoms, sometimes known as long COVID, which Dr. Sohail Gandhi said can result in low energy or extreme fatigue.
The rising cost of fuel is complicating the nearly month-long search for a missing Saskatchewan boy continues.
Saskatoon intensive care physician Dr. Hassan Masri says he has taken a leadership role in Ontario.
Saskatoon Police Service says all of the 189 contact interviews conducted by its officers last year complied with policy.
After a fire in a nearby business closed the shop, Sudbury’s Positive Inception officially reopened Monday.
Mine Mill Unifor Local 598 says staff at some of the area's long-term care facilities and nursing homes may have been exposed to cytotoxins.