February 14, 2018 8:35 pm
Updated: February 14, 2018 9:36 pm

Sperm whale spotted in B.C.’s Johnstone Strait after decades-long absence

B.C’s marine scientists are over the moon with the sighting of a giant not seen in Johnstone Strait in decades. Linda Aylesworth has the story.

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B.C. marine scientists are ecstatic after spotting a sperm whale in Johnstone Strait for the first time in more than three decades.

Whale researcher Jared Towers with Fisheries and Oceans Canada could hardly believe his ears when he heard echolocation clicks recorded by Orcalab.

The clicks that were being picked up by his equipment sounded to his trained ears like they were coming from a sperm whale, which hadn’t been spotted in the water between Vancouver Island and the mainland for many decades.

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“It was a bit of a mystery,” he said from Alert Bay. “We knew what it sounded like, we knew how unlikely it was to have a sperm whale in the area so it took a few hours to sink in.”

Towers set out to find the source of the clicks.

“The first time you see one, you’re kind of in shock because it’s so unusual looking,” he said. “They’re wrinkly, bumpy and lumpy. They have a blowhole on the side of the head.”

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It’s not easy finding a sperm whale because they spend most of their time diving deep below the surface hunting for fish and squid.

Towers estimates the whale is about 40 feet long.

“It was a bit of a shock just to be looking at one in my own backyard for the first time.”

Exactly why the whale is here, what it is feeding on, how long he intends to stay, is a mystery.

Towers hopes more of his kind will soon follow.

“Maybe this is a good sign, maybe this is a sign that sperm whale numbers are increasing and that they’re exploring new areas.”

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