Whale watchers, both on the water and ashore, experienced an up-close encounter with a pair of humpbacks Thursday night.
The two whales were spotted swimming at the Comox Marina, very close to shore, and were seen by dozens of onlookers from various locations.
“It was a truly rare – possibly the first-ever – visit from two humpbacks into the Comox Marina,” said Peter Hamilton, who witnessed and photographed the visit.
Hamilton said Thursday was a particularly successful day for whale watching.
“I was also out with six orcas off Comox and one other humpback near Texada Island.”
Spotting and identifying whales is nothing new for Hamilton. As the founder of Lifeforce, a marine wildlife protection, research and education organization, he has spent the better part of the last 35 years in and around the waters of B.C.’s West Coast.
“I started Lifeforce in 1981, feeling there was a need for an organization to look at the inter-relationship between human, animal and environmental problems. There were, at the time, organizations for each one of those, but no one really dealt with all the issues, together.”
Whale sightings, in general, are up in the past few years.
“We’ve seen an increase in humpbacks and transient orcas over the last several years. It used to be very rare to see humpbacks, but … over the last five years, we started to see them more and more often,” said Hamilton.
Thursday’s Comox Marina sighting come on the heels of an equally rare visit from a juvenile fin whale, earlier in the month.
The fin whale is the second-largest type of whale, and can grow to 80 feet in length. They are approximately 20 feet at birth. The one seen in the Comox Marina was estimated to be roughly 40 feet long, which would make it a juvenile age.