Read this story from the Calgary Herald on the juvenile humpback whale found dead early this morning on White Rock beach, likely due to starvation stemming from a fishing net that ensnared the whale. (June 13, 2012)
METRO VANCOUVER – The carcass of a beached humpback whale was towed off White Rock beach late last night with the help of a high tide.
The emaciated remains are now anchored off the beach while marine biologists decide what to do with the young whale, that died yesterday after beaching itself while wrapped in fishing line.
Efforts are now underway to identify the gear, in hopes of determining where and when the roughly three-year-old whale became entangled.
Vancouver Aquarium staff have also taken various samples from the remains to check for other causes of death, but say the whale’s condition suggests it starved after being tangled for some time.
The steady return of humpback whales to local waters took a graphic twist Tuesday morning when the juvenile wrapped in line washed ashore and died just east of the White Rock pier.
Hundreds of onlookers swarmed the scene, experiencing a mixture of sadness and awe at the presence of such a large marine mammal at their feet.
Some brought flowers for the whale. Members of the Semiahmoo First Nation danced and drummed in its honour. Both RCMP and federal fisheries officers stood in soaking boots and pants to maintain crowd control in the sea water.
In classic west coast fashion, one man on a standup paddleboard cruised by for a closer look before authorities shooed him away.
While grey whales are known to wash ashore in Metro Vancouver from time to time, this is the first such event in recent memory involving a humpback whale and is further evidence of the species’ gradual return to local waters.
“We know they used to inhabit the Strait of Georgia 100 years ago,” said Lance Barrett-Lennard, a marine mammal specialist with the Vancouver Aquarium.
“We see it as a good sign they are using these waters again, but they’re still not an everyday sight.”
RCMP Sgt. Paul Vadik said police were first notified of the beached whale at 5:15 a.m. It was still breathing but died about an hour later.
The whale measured 8.5 metres from the head to the base of its fluke, or tail fin, and is thought to be about three years old.
The creature had become entangled with heavy nylon line in its mouth, baleen and fluke, and could have suffered for months before dying.