A humpback whale has been found dead on a Haida Gwaii beach, according to the Marine Education and Research Society.
In a social media post Saturday (May 15), the society said that the whale, named Kayak, was found dead that day near the mouth of the Tlell River.
Kayak, otherwise known as BCX0977, was given her nickname after a society member noticed a distinctive marking on her side that looked like a person in a kayak.
Kayak had been sighted in many places previously; around northeast Vancouver Island, southeast Alaska, the Salish Sea, the Central Coast and around southwest Vancouver Island. She even went as far as Hawaii.
Sightings of the whale, believed to be around 18 years old, have been recorded as far back as 2004. She measured 14 metres at the time of her death, and had a calf in 2014 and possibly in 2020. While the average of lifespan of a humpback whale isn’t known, the society said some have been known to live as long as 80 years.
“What killed her? We don’t know. If a necropsy is done, it could reveal if there was blunt force trauma from collision, or an infection, and/or if she was pregnant. But it could be that she is too decayed for a necropsy to lead to any useful observations,” the society said.
“That is all we know of Kayak’s story. May we think of whales as individuals who have journeyed far, who have histories, and whose lineage has been impacted by human values.”