A grey whale was spotted off the shore of White Rock’s beach earlier this week. (Tyler Ingram photo)

Grey whales just making a ‘pit stop’ along B.C. coast, expert says

The whales are likely en route to Alaska, research scientist explains

Although they were reluctant to provide comment to Peace Arch News, a couple of White Rock area’s newest residents are causing quite a spectacle on the waterfront for both locals and tourists.

For the last couple of weeks, a pair of grey whales have been spotted – almost daily – feeding off the shore of White Rock’s beach.

The whales were viewed by tourists most recently on Thursday, and have been seen within 100 metres of the White Rock Pier.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada research scientist Thomas Doniol-Valcroze told PAN Thursday that it’s perfectly normal for grey whales to be close to White Rock at this time of the year.

“They’re a migratory species,” Doniol-Valcroze said. “The vast majority of the population migrates from down south, in Mexico, all the way along the shore to Alaska and even to Russia.”

He said the whales make frequent stops, “like pit stops,” to find food and refuel. Grey whales have been known to feed in one location for days, or even a few weeks, before carrying on in their journey.

He said that grey whales have a diverse diet, but they’re mostly interested in crustaceans.

“Some of them feed on the bottom. The grey whales are known to search through the mud to find them,” he said.

The whales near White Rock, he added, would likely be looking for “small, shrimp-like organisms.”

“They found a good spot because they’re staying there. There must be a good reason.”

Doniol-Valcroze said there are an estimated 27,000 grey whales off the North Pacific coast, but not all travel the distance to Alaska.

He said about 250 whales, which scientists have called the “Pacific Coast feeding group,” will stay in B.C. waters, west of Vancouver Island, for the duration of the summer.

Recent news articles from American publications draw attention to the number of grey whales that have washed up on Pacific Coast beaches. According to a Washington Post article, nine grey whales have washed up in California in a little less than two months.

Doniol-Valcroze, who added that a grey whale washed up on the coast of B.C. in recent weeks, said it’s too early to tell if the deaths are signs of a major mortality event.

“It’s not a concern to find dead whales from large populations. We’re going to lose some every year. What is a concern with some of those recent deaths is a lot of the whales were showing signs of being emaciated. Maybe not having enough to feed on in recent weeks or months. That could be a concern.”

If you have photos of the whales that you would like to share with Peace Arch News, please send them to the email below.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Bull busting

Bull Riding in the Rockies

RCMP Report

Some of the more interesting callouts for Columbia Valley RCMP July 15-21st

Young Hearts Triathlon

Annual event saw racers of all ages swim, bike, and run their way to a cheering finish line on Saturday, July 13th

Museum presents old time film festival

Series of six films Saturday, July 20th through Sunday, July 21st at museum

Peddling the practice of bikepacking

Growing sport of backcountry biking in the Valley

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

Southern resident killer whale died of blunt trauma, likely from ship

J34 was found more than two years ago near Sechelt, but the necropsy findings have now been released

B.C. rail crossing death highlights risks for people in wheelchairs: watchdog

Transportation Safety Board points to ‘persistent risks faced by persons using assistive devices’

B.C. teens wanted in double homicide, suspicious death spotted in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were thought to have been seen in the Gillam area

Nelson’s net-zero ready house is a glimpse into B.C.’s future

One local builder set out to construct the province’s ideal energy efficient home

Memorial bench painted by Vancouver woman to stay in park for now

Park board to look at options for artistic enhancements on commemorative benches

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Wrestling legend finds his wedding dance groove in B.C.

Professional wrestler Chris Jericho posted on social media that he was in Penticton recently

Most Read