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)

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

 

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)

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

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley was passed up for a cabinet position by Premier John Horgan. (Photo submitted)
Op-Ed: Modernizing forestry and prioritizing reconciliation

Doug Routley writes on Fairy Creek and Central Walbran Valley old growth deferrals

The log retaining wall that supports the access road to the Ladysmith Community Marina is failing and needs to be replaced. (Cole Schisler photo)
Remediation work for community marina access road expected to be costly

A log retaining wall between the access road and the parking area is failing and must be replaced

Marine biologist Rick Harbo pulls a lid from the Ladysmith harbour, which he uses to monitor the presence of native and non-native species in the Ladysmith harbour. (Cole Schisler photo)
Unidentified sponge may be the latest marine species invading Ladysmith Harbour

Marine biologist finding dozens of alien species in warm-water harbour, none of them threatening

More and more graffiti has appeared in Ladysmith’s downtown core during the pandemic. (Cole Schisler photo)
Council creates rebate program to encourage graffiti clean up

Property owners can receive up to $50 to help fund graffiti removal

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read