One of the most impressive sights in the ocean is a lunge feeding humpback. These magnificent animals can reach up to 16 meters in length. Their typical feeding pattern in our waters is to lunge at near surface schools of small feed material. This whale had a very predictable pattern of two-three surfacings and then a lunge. This whale was identified as CS178 (It’s actually identified twice within the Clayoquot Sound catalogue).
One nerve-wracking part of our encounter was how close the whale came to the Bawden Point fish farm. Alexandra Morton filmed small fry being eaten by farmed salmon and being attracted to the feed drifting from farm pens in 2016. Several humpbacks have been caught or killed by farm pens in BC waters in recent years. We were rather concerned that this could repeat itself based on the feeding patterns of this whale, but were very relieved when it moved around the pens and anchor lines to feed in another bay.
I will never forget this encounter. It’s rather disappointing that we didn’t get to share it with anyone! But thankfully, humpback whale sightings have been increasing in BC waters since their decline due to commercial whaling on the BC Coast. The Salish Sea and waters off Northern Vancouver Island now have year long humpback residents. This has increased the possibilities of boat strikes and entanglements, but BC has responded well and are looking out for our returning gentle giants. As we always should be.