A grey whale delighted onlookers and photographers Wednesday morning as it was spotted coming to the surface in the estuary near the Courtenay Airpark.
A group of around 20 people stopped to watch the whale close to the float plane ramp on the east side of the park. Initial reports of the whale in the area came in around 9 a.m.
The whale rose to the surface and spouted regularly every two to four minutes, and created a heart-shaped blow due to a double blow-hole.
Members from Fisheries and Oceans Canada were on scene taking photographs and confirmed the whale was a grey and not a humpback.
Jackie Hildering, education director and humpback researcher for the Marine Education and Research Society said it is not atypical for the species to be up rivers. She added it has only been recently determined that there are three populations of grey whales that can be found on the coast of British Columbia.
Additionally, she added the best way to discern a grey from a humpback is that they have grey patchy/mottled skin with a lot of barnacles (species-specific), no dorsal fin, a distinctively-shaped head and blows which are lower and bushier than humpbacks.