“Whale is doing well”: Scientists say BC’s rare white killer whale is booming


VICTORIA – Spotting an orca or killer whale in the freezing waters of the Pacific is a rare pleasure offered by nature. So staring at a white whale swimming next to traditionally black family members should be even rarer. Although it is rare to see it, a researcher says that Tl’uk, a white killer whale living near the waters off Vancouver Island, is not that hard to find.

“The chances are good, you will see,” said Fisheries and Oceans Canada researcher Jared Towers. “But remember that whales need their space. ”

Towers saw something really rare in his career on the ocean.

In 2018, he was one of the first Canadian scientists to confirm that a Bigg’s white killer whale was born in the population of British Columbia.

According to Towers, this white whale is one of four or five ever recorded in Canadian Pacific waters.

Known by scientists as T046B1B, the almost two-year-old killer whale also passes through Tl’uk. In the native language of the Coast Salish people, it is roughly translated as “Moon”.

Since the small white whale was first spotted off Vancouver Island, it has appeared constantly in videos and photos.

Federal scientists say he is gaining weight, hunting with his family group, and generally thriving.

“Yes, the whale is doing very well,” said Towers, who spotted Tl’uk last week near Alert Bay.

“He is seen very often around Vancouver Island and I expect him to continue to be seen as his family has a long history of sightings here. ”

Born into a family that apparently isn’t afraid of the limelight, DFO researchers say it’s important to take inspiration from the right whale and its family, but to do so from a great distance.

The new federal regulations mean that ships must be 400 meters from orcas once they have been spotted.

Maritime operators holding special permits can however approach up to 200 meters.

Tl’uk is one of the populations of Bigg’s killer whales that are known as transient orcas.

Unlike their salmon-eating cousins, the southern resident orcas, the Bigg orcas are in full swing with new births and large family groups.

Southern resident killer whales are critically endangered, with only 72 known individuals.

Bigg’s killer whales swim in the waters of eastern and western Vancouver Island and have been spotted as far north as Alaska.


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