A gray whale that feeds in the waters off Greater Victoria lends itself to the growing land-based whale watching movement.
Saanich resident Gerald Graham has a long-standing interest in whales and waterways in general.
A watcher of shipping and whale activity in Haro Strait, Graham is a regular visitor to the Phyllis Park lookout at the top of Arbutus Road. During a visit there with his wife in mid-January, Graham met a man from Gordon Head who told him about a gray whale prowling the waters near Glencoe Cove-Kwatsch Park.
He did not find it there but was alerted to one off Finnerty Cove a few days later.
He posted nine seconds of it on his YouTube channel and started looking for information.
He visited Haro Strait, visible from his favorite vantage point of Phyllis Park, so many times Graham created a 14-video playlist.
He sees it as a fantastic educational opportunity for people to watch and enjoy from afar – but without interfering. Once he posted the sighting on the Field Naturalists of Vancouver Island Facebook page, teachers began bringing students in to see.
” Let’s go. It has become a real hobby for the people of Gordon Head and Cadboro Bay to go see the whale and share where it is,” said Graham.
It shares its information and data with Fisheries and Oceans Canada as well as the US-based Cascadia Research Collective. Neither could identify the animal as listed in their databases. The American collective named it CRC 2440.
Whale watching from shore is growing in popularity, with a significant increase during parts of the COVID-19 pandemic – when people couldn’t board boats in groups to look for wildlife at sea.
“They have dozens and dozens of sites that are official land-based whale-watching sites,” Graham said.
An online resource, The Whale Trail, includes a map showing more than 100 sites on the coast, from central British Columbia to southern California, to see whales, dolphins or other marine mammals from shore. .
Phyllis Park isn’t one of them, but the gray whale has been feeding in Haro Strait for seven weeks now and little is known about its age, sex or general health. Graham continues to do his part, posting videos, sharing sightings and documenting his appearances.
Although grays aren’t known for bonding and traveling in packs like killer whales do, Graham hopes CRC 2440 will find its way back to the Pacific and join its cohort heading to Alaska as part of the annual migration.
“In the meantime, this is cause for celebration.”
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