Ocular still shows the scars but has been healing this past year. Photo courtesy of Peter Hamilton/Lifeforce

Injured humpback returns to waters near Comox a year later

Photographer spotted Ocular near Comox again and noticed the whale has been healing

Ocular the injured whale has returned to Vancouver Island waters.

A year ago, Peter Hamilton of Lifeforce Ocean Friends noticed the juvenile humpback off of Cape Lazo near Comox.

At the time, he took photos of the whale. Ocular had a severe injury along the spine, though Hamilton was not sure of the cause of the injury, figuring it could be from entanglement with fishing lines or from a boat propeller.

This year, on June 30, Hamilton was again out taking photos in the same area and saw the familiar creature.

“I was out there ID’ing other humpbacks, then I saw this smaller one, and I thought, ‘I wonder is that Ocular?’ … then I hear this blow, and Ocular is circling the boat,” he said.

The whale circled the boat once, then left.

“Maybe Ocular was checking out the boat that he or she saw last year,” he said.

Hamilton says the whale was born, first seen and named in 2016. As no one had reported any entanglements, he thought a boat propeller was the cause of the injury.

RELATED STORY: Injured humpback whale spotted near Comox

At the time, he worked with Jackie Hildering of the Marine Education and Research Society (MERS) to identify the nature of Ocular’s injury.

“It appears to be due to fishing gear entanglement,” he said. “That was a deep cut.”

The injuries ran down the back and near the fluke. Ocular seems to be on the mend, though, over this past year.

“It definitely healed, but certainly it’s still visible,” he said.

Hamilton figures the humpback returns south to spend winter in waters off Hawaii or Mexico. He has also talked to Hildering about where the creature might go, but they cannot be sure as they do not work with observers in those locations.

“Sometimes it’s hard to coordinate everything. You don’t have people on the other end,” he said.

In any case, the creature seems keen on heading back to this area.

“I thought it was an interesting coincidence with, like, timing. Ocular seems to like this area and arrived back about the same time he or she was here last year … in pretty well the exact location,” he said.

Hamilton underscores the need for some public education here when it comes to keeping a safe distance from whales. He said there has been confusion since the federal government has brought in new regulations, but he adds it is important to be up to date on these. Ideally, if one is swimming toward you, try to move away, to avoid their becoming habituated to humans, but if it surfaces nearby, be patient and let the whale move through the area. Humpbacks may be curious, but interactions can prove dangerous both to whales and humans.

“Sometimes curious whales will approach, but it is illegal to instigate it,” Hamilton added.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

RCMP Report

Some of the more notable files from Columbia Valley RCMP week of August 12-18th

Rossland council urges minister to kill Jumbo Glacier Resort project

Mayor writes letter panning ski resort on environmental, legal, and economic grounds

Legend of the book bike

Book fairy hands out books to lucky recipients who spot her

Summer Snack Program helps local kids in need of a good lunch

Summit Youth Centre is giving tasty, nutritious lunches and snacks to Columbia Valley kids.

Bounding into the great outdoors

Playwest Mountain Experience takes hikers into the wilderness.

VIDEO: Could we BE any more excited? ‘Friends’ fans go crazy for merch

Movie theatres will show select episodes to mark the NBC series’ 25th anniversary

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

Nearly 50% of Canadians experience ‘post-vacation blues’: poll

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Most Read