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

Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce celebrates big win for LNG

Federal government moves on recommendation to provide relief on steel duties

Terrace resolutions on liquor tax, childcare to be presented at UBCM

City of Terrace agenda takes aim at provincial ‘downloading’

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Skeena Voices | Happy campers

Arizona couple celebrates 20 years of summer camping on Ferry Island

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

‘It’s just the freedom:’ Paralyzed Broncos player pursuing life on the water

The former Humboldt Broncos goaltender, who started in the net when he was nine, was paralyzed last year

Most Read