Photos of the tail of a dead Humpback whale helped identify the carcass as that of Hawkeye. (Photo contributed by Shoreline Photography/Eagel Wing Torus/Pacific Whale Watch Association)

Humpback carcass off coast of Vancouver Island identified as Hawkeye

Ship strikes take toll on whale populatin

A dead humpback whale spotted in the Strait of Juan de Fuca last Wednesday brings the total to four of the iconic creatures lost in the past two years.

A report of the carcass of a humpback floating in the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Sept. 30 was confirmed as Hawkeye (MMX0094). It had been spotted and photographed alive and well as recently as Sept. 22 off of Otter Point west of Sooke.

“It was very sad to see,” Val Shore, a professional naturalist with Victoria-based Eagle Wing Tour, said in a media release. “We circled slowly around the whale to get photos from all angles, looking for signs of injury or entanglement. We couldn’t see anything obvious.”

READ ALSO: Second calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Fortunately, Shore was able to get good photos of the underside of the whale’s flukes, which enabled the whale to be identified. Markings on the underside of Humpback whale’s tails such as barnacle scars, tooth rakes, scratches and unique colourization distinguish whales from one another. That provides researchers with the information that has enabled them to catalogue hundreds of whales in the Salish Sea. The identifying photos were shared immediately with marine mammal authorities with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as well as with humpback researchers in the region. Professional Whale Watch Association members routinely share unusual sighting information as part of a collaborative effort.

Not much is known about the young male Hawkeye since he was first catalogued in 2016. His death raises the possibility that Hawkeye may have been struck by a vessel, although that cannot be confirmed until the carcass is examined and a necropsy has been completed. There is that concern, however, because the whale was found in busy shipping lanes, and strikes by vessels are on the rise as shipping traffic, predominantly out of the ports of Vancouver, Seattle and Tacoma, increases in the region.

READ ALSO: Mother orca that carried her dead calf for 17 days gives birth again

A Washington State Ferry (WSF) struck and presumably killed a humpback whale while leaving Elliott Bay in Seattle in 2019, and a second humpback was killed by a WSF vessel on July 6 of this year. Two more dead humpback were found this summer as well.

Hawkeye’s carcass was last spotted floating in Clallum Bay along the interior coast of Washington State. Anyone who sees the carcass in Canadian waters is asked to contact the Fisheries and Oceans Canada at 1-604-240-3841. Call the Stranding Network Hotline at 1-866-767-6114 to report deceased whales in U.S. waters.

Significant efforts are underway throughout the maritime community on both sides of the border to reduce the number of strikes. Learn more at pacificwhalewatchassociation.com.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazete.com

Whales

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The carcass of a dead Humpback whale was spotted on Sept. 30 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. (Photo contributed by Shoreline Photography/Eagle Wing Tours/Pacific Whale Watch Assoiciation)

Just Posted

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich residents warned to watch livestock after bear kills llama

Officers with Conservation, Saanich police could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

More than 250 riders took part in the fifth annual Tripleshot CrossFondo, which riders across parts of the Saanich Peninsula, including this field near Sluggett Farms. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Tripleshot CrossFondo rides across Saanich Peninsula

More than 250 cyclists took part in mystery-course race

Local New Democrat Zeb King welcomed Premier John Horgan during a brief photo opportunity in Sidney Monday afternoon (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
NDP leader John Horgan predicts party will ‘flip’ Saanich North and the Islands

Incumbent MLA Adam Olsen calls Horgan’s claim ‘bold’

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is warning customers of a confirmed case of COVID-19 on WestJet flight 195 from Calgary into Victoria on Oct. 11. Passengers seated between rows one and seven should self-minotor for symptoms for the next 14 days. (Black Press Media file photo)
Confirmed COVID case on WestJet flight day after previous exposure on same route

BCCDC warning passengers seated in rows one to seven on WestJet flight 195 on Oct. 11 into Victoria

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read