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

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)

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

Dr. Bernhardt’s freshly planted strawberries. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Hoping for a bumper crop of strawberries

Because our new plot gets a lot of sun, maybe strawberries won’t become consumed by wood bugs

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Newton’s first law of motion

I could have sworn I told them to help each other get unbuckled and to come inside.

Commercial property owners in Duncan will have an opportunity to beef up their security in 2021 with matching grants from the municipality. (File photo)
City of Duncan to help commercial properties increase security

Municipality to set up matching grant opportunities

John and Jeri Wyatt hope the upcoming North Cowichan public hearing will move things along toward exclusion of the Chemainus River Campground from the Agricultural Land Reserve. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Input sought on Chemainus campground ALR exclusion at public hearing

Matter back on the agenda after a late reprieve in 2019 for Chemainus River Campground owners

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Most Read