Dead humpback whale washes up near B.C. ferry terminal
Published Saturday, November 17, 2018 1:15PM EST
Officials are trying to determine the cause of death for a young humpback whale that washed up near a major ferry terminal in B.C.
The carcass of the mammal was discovered in shallow waters near the BC Ferries terminal in Tsawwassen Friday morning.
The whale was reported to authorities, triggering a response from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the Tsawwassen First Nation.
"We'll look at the body condition, see if the animal's emaciated," said Paul Cottrell, the local marine mammal coordinator for the DFO told CTV Vancouver.
“It’s really important to figure out what’s happened to this animal and why it’s died and make sure if there’s an anthropogenic cause - human cause - what that is.”
Experts are aiming to find out if the mammal died as a result of an illness or a collision with fishing gear or vessels.
"We're definitely looking into some reports we've received through the marine mammal response network and we'll be following up with those," Cottrell added.
A Coast Guard hovercraft was dispatched to the scene to help transport the whale to nearby Sea Island, where there was enough space for the examination.
"We're going to take lots of samples, morphometric measurements and just hopefully figure out what happened," Cottrell said.
In the past decade, the booming whale population has been dubbed the “humpback comeback,” celebrated by scientists as a sign of a resurging population with enough food and improving marine conditions.
But news of the latest death has sent alarm bells ringing.
"It’s very concerning, of course we're hoping it was natural causes,” Andrea Jacobs from Tsawwassen First Nation said.
Members of the Tsawwassen First Nation also went to the area to pray and perform a ceremony for the whale before its removal.
“We had an elder and some cultural advisors come out and sing a song and drum and prayer to send the whale on its way,” said Jacobs.
“We just wanted to be respectful and follow traditional protocols.”
Autopsy results typically take a week before a preliminary report is published and test results could take even longer.
The DFO also warned that in some cases, a cause of death is never found.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a hotline where people can report ill, injured or harassed whales.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Penny Daflos
We are saddened to hear about the whale that washed up near our terminal at Tsawwassen this morning. We’d like to let our customers know that traffic is flowing normally at this time. We will provide updates throughout the day. #BCFerries #BCFHeadsUp ^kb— BC Ferries (@BCFerries) November 16, 2018
NEW: Coast Guard hovercraft w @DFO_Pacific experts on board assessing adolescent humpback whale in waters off Tsawwassen. In a moment they’ll be taking it to Sea Island for a necropsy to find out why it died. Lots of details coming in my @CTVVancouver story at 6:00. pic.twitter.com/bZ9MqJO0Mj— Penny Daflos (@PennyDaflos) November 16, 2018