A dead grey whale discovered between Sidney Island and James Island near North Saanich will undergo a necropsy in Sidney, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
The deceased adult male grey whale was discovered on Thursday, and was towed to the DFO’s Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney by one of their mid-shore patrol vessels.
The necropsy will be conducted in Sidney and the data uncovered will be added to Canada’s growing collection of information on the species.
“The results of necropsies feed into a growing body of knowledge to assist in assessing the threats to whales from a population health perspective,” a DFO spokesperson told Victoria Buzz.
“This data allows us to look at trends, pathogens, or other indicators that may affect their life history.”
— Dean Johnson (@mdeanjohnson) April 4, 2019
According to wildwhales.org, there are two distinct populations of grey whales in the North Pacific: western grey whales who live near the coasts of China, Korea, Japan, and Russia, and eastern grey whales who range between Mexico and Alaska.
Western grey whales are critically endangered and have been hunted almost to extinction, with an estimated fewer than 100 animals remaining. Meanwhile, eastern grey whales were extensively hunted in the 19th and 20th centuries, but have since been protected with populations bouncing back to an estimated 18,000 to 24,000.
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Eastern grey whales have a long migration path, stretching from Central America to the tip of North America. The marine mammals usually only pass through BC waters in the spring as they make their way to Alaska for the summer, but a small population remain off our province’s coast throughout the season. These several hundred grey whales are called “summer residents”.
Canada’s Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife has designated grey whales as a ‘special concern’.
If you spot a distressed or deceased marine mammal, the DFO recommends calling the Marine Mammal Incident Reporting Hotline at 1-800-465-4336.