Whales in BC Waters

Beaked, sei, fin, sperm, and north pacific right whales are / were also native to the coastal waters of British Columbia. A female sperm whale sighting is quite possible along the west coast of Vancouver Island, as is a fin whale further off the coast in deeper waters. It is, however, rare to sight a sei, beaked or north pacific right whale these days.

Whaling decimated the SEI whale population and the species has not recovered

Times Colonist February 10, 2008

The slim, streamlined sei whales breed and feed in the open ocean and little is known about their migration.

Once, seis were among the most abundant species of whales off the coast of B.C., but numbers plummeted with whaling and have not recovered. In the 1960s, more than half the whales caught in B.C. waters were seis.

Sei Whale Victoria Vancouver Island BC

Today there are few, if any, sei whales in B.C. waters and they are listed as endangered. The entire population in the north Pacific is thought to number about 14,000 — 20 per cent of the pre-whaling population.

Sei whale fin BC

Seis, which grow to between 18 and 21 metres, feed on plankton, but will also eat small fish and squid, especially if they congregate in groups close to the surface.

Sei whales are often seen in groups of two to five. They are fast swimmers, possibly the fastest of all cetaceans (whales and dolphins). When slow moving Sei whales surface, their blowholes and dorsal fin are often visible above the water at the same time. Feeding Sei whales tend to dive and surface in very predictable series, often remaining visible just below the surface between breaths.


Beaked whales are negatively affected by sonar

Scientists have no idea about the population or status of these strange-looking, secretive whales.

The Baird’s, arch-beaked, goose-beaked and Bering Sea beaked whales are believed to live in the waters off the west coast, from California to the Bering Sea.

They prefer the steep cliffs on the edge of the continental shelf where they dive to great depths, which is why they are badly affected by sonar.

They eat squid, octopus and fish and usually swallow their prey whole.

Fin whales can live up to 100 years

Fin whales can live for up to 100 years, but it has not helped them recover from the whaling years and they are listed as threatened.

Fins are the second largest whale in the world, ranging in size from 20 to 27 metres, and have streamlined bodies which help with speed swimming.

They prefer the deep, open ocean and are believed to migrate to Arctic feeding grounds in the summer.

They eat krill and small fish and have been seen circling schools of fish at high speed, rolling the fish into a compact ball and then turning on their side and swallowing them.

There are no accurate population estimates for B.C. waters, but it is believed there are about 40,000 in the Northern Hemisphere.

Major threats include increasing noise levels from shipping and concerns about sonar, military operations and oil and gas exploration.

North Pacific Right Whales are one of the most endangered species

If you spot one, you have won the marine mammal lottery. No one has seen a North Pacific right whale in Canadian waters in the last 50 years.

There may be fewer than 100 in coastal waters out of a global population of 2,000, making them one of the most endangered whale species.

The right whale, hunted because of its slow movement and tendency to float when killed, grows up to 17 metres and primarily feeds on copepods, a type of plankton.

Little is known about migratory routes, but historical whaling logs show right whales once occupied B.C. waters from April to October.

Sperm Whales

Sperm whales are most common in B.C. waters in spring and summer. Females remain in the coastal waters of Vancouver Island, while males swim north to the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Males grow to 15 to 18.5 metres, females are usually 11 metres or less and one third of the length of the whale is taken up by the head, which contains a clear, liquid oil.

Their favourite food is squid, but they also eat octopus and deep-water fish, sometimes diving for up to an hour at a time to depths of more than 2,000 metres.

There is no estimate of population figures, but they are not believed to be at risk.

© 2007 Times Colonist

Baby Orca and 6 breaches

This was a perfect vacation - loved the room and view - stayed here our first two days watching the Otter and her baby - the 16 Swans (2 babies), hundreds of Geese - Ducks - Herons - Deer and even a Sea Plane! We look forward to seeing that and maybe us on the website Dieter! Be sure to take a Whale Watching trip through the Islands with Dieter - we saw lots of Whales - a baby Orca and 6 Breaches!! Another must - Port Renfrew and the trails at China Beach. Canada is a beautiful country and the people are wonderful! Thank you Dieter and Annette, Monty and Emily - come visit us!

Whale calf buoys hopes for pod - L118 Orca

A rambunctious youngster is causing waves among whale watchers around Juan de Fuca Strait.

The first new calf of the season for the endangered southern resident killer whales is racing around with other members of L Pod, said Ken Balcomb, executive director of the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, Washington.

Endangered western Pacific grey whale could be bound for Vancouver Island

Flex, an endangered western Pacific grey whale who has astounded researchers by leaving Russia and speeding across the Bering Sea, could be in northern Vancouver Island waters by the weekend.