Kaitlin Paquette, Marine Naturalist with Discovery Marine Safaris
Our story today will introduce you to two whales who have survived collisions with boats.
Raza (BCXuk2018#5) and Callahan (BCYuk2020#4) have recently been spending time travelling together around Campbell River and have inspired me to share their stories.
Raza was first documented in 2018 travelling near Raza Island, thus the nickname was perfectly suited. It seemed that Raza enjoyed spending most of his/her time in Calm Channel – in particular near the mouth of Bute Inlet.
In an unfortunate twist of fate, Raza was hit by a boat sometime in the later part of the summer season. When s/he first was documented with the wounds from this incident, the images were nothing short of shocking. Just below the dorsal fin was a series of deep cuts from a propeller running down Raza’s back as it travelled over him/her.
Researchers and the whale watching community alike were both stunned and gutted by the wounds – no one was sure if Raza could survive. But s/he did.
Raza now bears an impressively healed series of scars that makes him/her an ambassador for other whales. While Raza survived, not all whales do (as you will remember from Halfpipe’s story).
Two years later, a new whale arrived in our area. Callahan, as the whale was later nicknamed, was first documented on July 4, 2020. At the time photos of him/her didn’t reveal anything out of the ordinary. Several weeks later, however, images revealed a very different story.
There appeared to be older/healed propeller scars but also a new set of wounds across the left and top of his/her body. These wounds were fairly deep into the layer of blubber.
Amazingly, Callahan has survived a vessel strike not once but twice – in a lifetime.
Despite being a newer whale to the area, Callahan, too, becomes an important figurehead in efforts to increase awareness.
These whales are barometers. The health of a population is not solely based on numbers.
While we have made great strides in regards to the ‘Humpback Comeback’ – we fall short on how to coexist respectfully and safely now that they have returned. Raza and Callahan illustrate how much work we still need to do in creating awareness on sharing the water with humpback whales.
It’s this parting thought I leave you with…
When you know better – you do better. So please remember See a Blow? Go Slow!
And be sure to follow the Government Marine Mammal Regulations.