A 10-metre-long female humpback whale was found washed up on the shore of Klemtu, a community on B.C.’s northern coast today. She is the fourth humpback to be found dead on the province’s coast in the past week. While marine officials are not citing a cause of death, they note that she had several large cuts and a gash above her tail; she may have been caught in rope, they said.
The whale was found on her back.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada said a smaller humpback was discovered dead near Hadaii Gwaii on Tuesday and two other humpbacks were seen floating dead in B.C. coastal waters in the past few days. Already marine mammals co-ordinator Paul Cottrell of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada has done a necropsy on the whale found at Klemtu.
“It is a concern and it’s something that we’re watching,” Cottrell told the Globe and Mail. “We’re hoping that if there is something out there that’s common, we can find what that is.”
In a similar series of events, 8 humpbacks and 10 finn whales were found dead off the coast of Alaska from mid-June until the end of July. While scientists were looking for the cause of their deaths, there was speculation they may have died due to the extreme warm temperatures creating toxicity in the food they ate. Humpbacks and finns will feed in close proxcimity to one another.
However, the reason why the whales in Alaska and the four humpbacks in B.C. died is not known and there has been no linking of the two events. In both cases, tests have been sent to labs and it is hoped the results will privide answers.