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First Salish Sea humpback calf of 2022 makes playful entrance off B.C.’s coast

The new calf is the seventh to be born to famous Salish Sea humpback Big Mama
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Big Mama’s newest calf is seen playing on its back in Boundary Pass May 2. (Val Shore, Eagle Wing Tours, PWWA)

The first new humpback calf to enter the Salish Sea this year was spotted splashing and cartwheeling Monday (May 2 ) afternoon.

The Pacific Whale Watch Association said the young whale is the seventh to be born to famous Salish Sea humpback mother, Big Mama.

They were photographed playing in the ocean in Boundary Pass, near the southern Gulf Islands on Monday. Big Mama was identified by a small bump on the right side of her dorsal fin.

Researchers had already been keeping an eye out for her new calf, having first heard word of it from a rafting adventure company in Hawaii in February. Crossing the Pacific Ocean is a dangerous task though, with commercial shipping traffic, fishing equipment and orcas, and researchers couldn’t be sure the calf had survived until they received word Monday.

READ ALSO: Group looks to better protect whales from human-caused hazards

“When the news travelled over the radio, there was instant celebration,” Pacific Whale Watch Association’s executive director, Erin Gless, said in a news release. “Big Mama was one of the first humpback whales to repopulate the Salish Sea after the whaling era and has been feeding here regularly since 1997. We always look forward to her return, but even more so when she brings a calf with her.”

Gless said in the coming weeks more and more humpbacks will return to the Salish Sea from the waters around Hawaii, Mexico and Central America. They’ll likely remain there until the fall, feeding on small fish and krill.

In 2021, a record 21 humpback whale calves were spotted in the Salish Sea.

READ ALSO: 2021 brought record sightings, many newborn whale calves to Victoria waters


 

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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media after starting as a community reporter in Greater Victoria.
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