place to start

In the thirty years we vacationed on the island we never saw a whale. In all those years, E’s Dad lived here full time and I think he mentioned seeing one once at Thanksgiving in front of Boat Harbour. In the twenty odd years the previous owners of our house were here, they saw a humpback whale once…

In addition to Bobby we had heard rumours of a second whale hanging about these waters in the last six weeks. We assumed it was Claw, Bobby’s Mom and tried to get photographic proof. We needed a picture of her tail and it would have been nice to have one of the two of them together. In my head, Mom and son were enjoying the spring together in a world where I can’t spend time with my kids..

We heard back from the research group last night regarding the picture we took yesterday afternoon, at 3:38, of a whale substantially larger than Bobby.

When the underside of the whale’s fluke is more than 80% white it is classified as a BCZ whale. If it is primarily black, it is a BCX, and somewhere in between, a BCY. This whale is even more unique as it is listed in the Clayoquot catalogue instead of the DFO catalogue. The whale’s full scientific name is BCZ-CS513. Our photo of her yesterday is the first known documentation of her this year

She is referred to in sighting reports as a “giant”, and yes she is a she. Her nickname is Anvil for the black anvil shape on the upper right corner of her fluke.

I should mention that our Bobby is nicknamed Hammer by the researchers for the hammer shaped marking on the left side of his fluke. (He will always be Bobby to me). I have been told by the research group that contrary to my imagined world where Mom and sons play together for years on end, it would be unlikely that Bobby would still be with his mom at his age.

Humpbacks reach maturity around the age of twelve and have a calf every two years on average. Anvil is probably around ten years old.

Humpbacks whales were the most common large whale in these waters until commercial whaling killed almost 2000 of them between 1903 and 1966. There were only a few left when they were declared endangered in 1966. Since the 1990’s, sightings have increased on the BC west coast from one or two per year to daily events in the 2000’s . We have had visits from Bobby fairly regularly since the middle of March.

Adult humpback whales are between 35-45 feet long. The humpbacks we have in our waters go south to warmer waters for breeding and calving. They rarely eat there. They return to the colder waters in the summer months to feed on krill, herring and other small fish. They normally return to the same areas every year and we can only hope Anvil and Hammer have found our waters hospitable and continue to return.

Humpbacks, much to our anticipated enjoyment, like to breach and tail slap or can be found laying motionless on the surface of the water for long periods while they sleep.

I think you all would agree that we are living in a substantially different world than we were, even three years ago. We need to find the positives where we can. Following the antics of Hammer and Anvil with me here on the nature channel, is a pretty great

place to start

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