Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wandering whale

The photograph above is the business end of a North Atlantic right whale, an endangered species of baleen whale which got its name from the early whalers because they considered them the "right" whales to hunt. In fact, the whaling industry hunted them to near extinction, and now they are further threatened by commercial shipping traffic and fishing nets. There are a mere 50 of the animals in existence, and none had been spotted in their traditional territory of the waters off British Columbia since 1951 – and that one was killed. In June, a 35-footer was spotted west of the Queen Charlotte Islands by a biologist aboard a Canadian Coast Guard vessel. On October 25, a North American right whale estimated at 55' was seen near the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait near Victoria by the operator of a water taxi service. The sighting was confirmed the following day by John Ford of the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, B.C. Ford took the photo of the individual and comments, It’s exciting, kind of astonishing, really, to have two different animals sighted four months apart on our coast when there haven’t been any confirmed sightings for the last 62 years. We were uncertain whether the species still occurred in Canadian waters and this clearly shows that they do.”

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