Whale of Some Great News

The North Pacific right whale, June, 2018. Photo courtesy Facebook/Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The North Pacific right whale, June, 2018. Photo courtesy Facebook/Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Since SeaLuxe is all about our beautiful oceans, we’re so excited to tell you about a recent whale sighting. Scientists with Fisheries and Oceans Canada aboard the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Vector spotted a North Pacific right whale off the coast of Haida Gwaii earlier this month. This whale is so rare, this is only the third sighting of this species in Canadian waters since 1951!

Commercial and illegal whaling hunting during the last 200 years have almost killed off the North Pacific right whale, according to DFO. It is one of the most endangered whale species in the world. They are called “right whales” because whalers loved hunting them for their significant size (DFO describes them as being around the same size as “three minivans”), slow movement, easy approachability, and tendency to float when killed. Whaling during the 1800s nearly wiped them out for good. The population began to recover, only again almost facing extinction when Russians whalers killed 529 of them during the 1960s.

North Pacific right whales mostly feed on copepods, a type of zooplankton, and are identifiable by a highly arched jaw and white growths of thick skin on its head (called callosities). Thankfully, the North Pacific right whale is protected by the federal Species at Risk Act and by the Marine Mammals Regulations, under the Fisheries Act. It is believed there are fewer than 50 right whales left in the eastern Pacific population.

Interestingly, the first and second sightings of this species in Canadian waters was only five years ago, in 2013. A whale was spotted in October off the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait near Victoria, while the first sighting was four months earlier, in June, off the coast of Haida Gwaii.

If you feel as passionately about the ocean and its residents as we do, consider getting involved with conservation program Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk. Every one person can make a difference.