Humpback whale found dead near Tsawwassen ferry terminal: DFO
Published Friday, November 16, 2018 11:06AM PST
Last Updated Friday, November 16, 2018 4:16PM PST
The carcass of an adolescent humpback whale was found near the BC Ferries terminal in Tsawwassen Friday morning, but the cause of death is not yet clear.
The whale was reported to authorities in the shallow waters near the Tsawwassen causeway, triggering a response from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Tsawwassen First Nation.
It's unclear how the cetacean died, but officials told CTV News a veterinarian is aiming to perform the autopsy Friday night.
“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,” said Paul Cottrell, the marine mammal co-ordinator for Fisheries and Oceans.
Cottrell says the humpback appears to be young.
A Coast Guard hovercraft was dispatched to the scene to help transport the whale to Sea Island for the examination.
News of the cetacean's death was quickly followed by messages of mourning on social media. BC Ferries responded to the discovery on Twitter, and noted the unfortunate incident has not impacted sailings.
“We are saddened to hear about the whale that washed up near our terminal,” BC Ferries wrote. “We’d like to let our customers know that traffic is flowing normally at this time.”
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 Andrea Jacobs.
Fisheries and Oceans said if the cause of death is obvious, it could be confirmed Friday – but if not, answers about the whale's fate could take longer than a week.
An official told CTV News the incident is disappointing given that humpbacks, which were once a threatened species, have seen a resurgence off the B.C. coast., particularly in the Strait of Georgia.
“We’re seeing an increase of humpbacks in in-shore waters, they’ve been moving back into in-shore waters, especially over the last decade, which has been amazing,” said Cottrell.
The death comes as officials confirmed a dead orca calf had been spotted near Nootka Island, off the west coast of Vancouver Island, on Wednesday.
A DNA sample of the orca – to help determine the type of killer whale – has been collected and Fisheries and Oceans will be performing a necropsy Friday.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a hotline where people can report ill, injured or harassed whales, but staff could not confirm whether there have been any reports related to a humpback in the area recently.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Penny Daflos
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
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