Humpback whales are identified by the underside and trailing edge of their tail flukes; each one is different just like a fingerprint. In British Columbia humpbacks are given a letter as part of their identification to categorize their fluke based on color. X animals have mostly black tails with less than 20% white on their fluke, Y animals have a fluke that is 20-60% white, while Z animals have more than 60% of their fluke white. Humpback whales often show these tails, or ‘fluke’ while diving, making them ideal candidates for photo-identification projects. This photo is of a humpback that we frequently see on our whale watching tours, it is called ‘Guardian’.
The last 3 years we have been starting to view sea otters in our area more regularly. They are still often a distance away, but the sightings are increasing with some “rafts” of them developing in areas near the western portion of our whale watching trips. These animals were hunted heavily for their fur and were completely wiped out of British Columbia waters. Re-introduction occurred from Alaskan otters in the 1960’s. They have long been protected and their numbers have been steadily increasing along the exposed BC coast and are now moving back into inside waters. They are unique in that they don’t have the insulating blubber that other marine mammals use to keep warm. As a result they have dense (over 1 million hairs per square inch) fur and feed heavily. They are important in balancing the eco-system. They eat a lot of sea urchins, which eat a lot of kelp. Kelp is extremely important as it provides cover for juvenile fish and is where the herring spawn in the early spring. With the increase in these otters we are seeing a greater abundance and healthier kelp forests.Visit our Blog