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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Severe storm warning remains in effect for the Kootenays

Two special weather statements have been issued for the West Kootenay

Update: Suspect in Montrose gas station stabbing new to the area

Police say the 30-year-old suspect stabbed a Montrose gas station employee

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

RDKB launches survey to address housing needs in the district

Communities in the district include Trail, Grand Forks, Rossland and Fruitvale

No passenger flights at West Kootenay Regional Airport until at least September

This is the third time Air Canada has announced changes to flight operations out of the airport

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Join Kootenay family in virtual walk for Ronald McDonald House

“We always described it as our oasis in the middle of the desert,” Brigitte Ady shares.

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Most Read