A grey whale was spotted off the shore of White Rock’s beach earlier this week. (Tyler Ingram photo)

Grey whales just making a ‘pit stop’ along B.C. coast, expert says

The whales are likely en route to Alaska, research scientist explains

Although they were reluctant to provide comment to Peace Arch News, a couple of White Rock area’s newest residents are causing quite a spectacle on the waterfront for both locals and tourists.

For the last couple of weeks, a pair of grey whales have been spotted – almost daily – feeding off the shore of White Rock’s beach.

The whales were viewed by tourists most recently on Thursday, and have been seen within 100 metres of the White Rock Pier.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada research scientist Thomas Doniol-Valcroze told PAN Thursday that it’s perfectly normal for grey whales to be close to White Rock at this time of the year.

“They’re a migratory species,” Doniol-Valcroze said. “The vast majority of the population migrates from down south, in Mexico, all the way along the shore to Alaska and even to Russia.”

He said the whales make frequent stops, “like pit stops,” to find food and refuel. Grey whales have been known to feed in one location for days, or even a few weeks, before carrying on in their journey.

He said that grey whales have a diverse diet, but they’re mostly interested in crustaceans.

“Some of them feed on the bottom. The grey whales are known to search through the mud to find them,” he said.

The whales near White Rock, he added, would likely be looking for “small, shrimp-like organisms.”

“They found a good spot because they’re staying there. There must be a good reason.”

Doniol-Valcroze said there are an estimated 27,000 grey whales off the North Pacific coast, but not all travel the distance to Alaska.

He said about 250 whales, which scientists have called the “Pacific Coast feeding group,” will stay in B.C. waters, west of Vancouver Island, for the duration of the summer.

Recent news articles from American publications draw attention to the number of grey whales that have washed up on Pacific Coast beaches. According to a Washington Post article, nine grey whales have washed up in California in a little less than two months.

Doniol-Valcroze, who added that a grey whale washed up on the coast of B.C. in recent weeks, said it’s too early to tell if the deaths are signs of a major mortality event.

“It’s not a concern to find dead whales from large populations. We’re going to lose some every year. What is a concern with some of those recent deaths is a lot of the whales were showing signs of being emaciated. Maybe not having enough to feed on in recent weeks or months. That could be a concern.”

If you have photos of the whales that you would like to share with Peace Arch News, please send them to the email below.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A sentencing hearing began for Joel Conway who was convicted of break and enter and sexual assault last year. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Saanich man sentenced to three years in prison for breaking into woman’s home and sexually assaulting her

Crown is asking Joel Conway be sentenced to four years for both charges, to be served concurrent

Cat owners are being warned to keep their pets indoors after a threatening note was found posted in a North Saanich neighbourhood. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
ROAM warns Peninsula cat owners after threatening note posted in neighbourhood

Note writer doesn’t want cats pooping in their yard, threatens to trap them

Norm Scott, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch no. 91 in Lanford, pins the first poppy to launch the annual Poppy Campaign on George Baker, who served with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1953 to 1989. Baker said it was an honour to be chosen for something so significant for veterans everywhere. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
Poppy campaign launches in Langford with pinning ceremony

The poppy campaign is officially underway with the first of the pins… Continue reading

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Allentown, Pa. on Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
POLL: How closely are you following the U.S. presidential election?

It may feel like it’s been going on forever but the U.S.… Continue reading

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Police service dog Herc helped RCMP locate and arrest suspects in the Ladysmith area on Oct. 23, 2020, related to a stolen vehicle. (Submitted)
RCMP nab prolific property offender in Ladysmith with assist from police dog Herc

Police attempted to stop the vehicle but it fled from the area towards Chemainus.

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read