Whale Watching: Humpback Whale Encounter for a Vancouver Couple

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A Vancouver couple were amazed and a little scared during an hour-long whale encounter on the central coast of British Columbia.

Evan Lee-Dodek and Sofia Carroll said they were fishing in Toba Inlet on Friday when they saw a humpback whale.

The whale was about 100 yards away, they told CTV News in an interview on Monday, but they still turned off their canoe’s engine to avoid disturbing the giant.

The whale made its way towards them, they said, swimming under their canoe and staying nearby for about two hours.

They were scared but couldn’t leave, because they didn’t want to stop the engine when the whale was so close.

At one point, the whale lifted its boat and swam away with it. While they were amazed, they also worried that the humpback whale would puncture the hull of the boat.

“Once he got used to us as well, he started slamming the boat and being more playful, and that’s when it got scarier,” Carroll said, describing the “roller coaster of emotions” that they crossed during these hours.

“What was more nerve-wracking was when he was hitting the boat with his fins. We’re in a lackluster. He’s bloated around the outside and (the whale has) these huge barnacles on his fins and he hit the boat. I was pretty stressed,” Lee-Dodek said.

“Here we are so far from everything in a really deep, vulnerable fjord, just at the mercy of this whale.”

The whale did some, albeit minor, damage to the underside of the boat.

The couple said it was a small price to pay for the experience.

Humpback whales have made a comeback in recent years in British Columbia waters after being hunted to near extinction in the early 1900s.

According to Jackie Hildering, the whales in the video are known to the Marine Education & Research Society.

“There are two humpback whales shown in this encounter: KC, who I nicknamed when he was in first grade with his mother, Houdini, in 2002, and Eros, who is a newly documented whale this year,” said Hildering in an email to CTV News. “Eros is the closest whale to the boat.”

MERS describes the behavior seen in the video, and the possible reasoning, in a blog post on its website from 2018. The post also explains concerns about human behavior in these situations.

The group reminded the public that touching a whale is an illegal act under federal marine mammal regulations and said they hope the video doesn’t encourage others to try to do the same.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada describes the laws and regulations on its website and offers advice on what to do to avoid disturbing marine mammals.


With an interview with Cameron Mitchell of CTV News Vancouver

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