DELTA, B.C.—The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says a grey whale and its calf that became stranded in Boundary Bay, south of Vancouver are now headed back out to open sea.
The DFO announced the good news on Twitter late Friday night, hours after a marine mammal response team was sent in with a vessel and re-floatation equipment to try to help the whales get back into deeper waters.
— DFO Pacific (@DFO_Pacific) May 11, 2019
The Vancouver Aquarium said it’s head veterinarian, vet technicians and staff from its Marine Mammal Rescue Centre were also in the area to provide assistance.
The aquarium’s operator Ocean Wise had earlier said on Twitter that the tide was coming in and it was hoped the pair of whales would be able to swim away.
Our @vanaqua Marine Mammal Rescue team is on site at Boundary Bay, as DFO monitors trapped mother and calf grey whales. Tide is coming in now, so the hope is they will soon be able to swim away. pic.twitter.com/a2OsPvcjRj
— Ocean Wise (@OceanWise) May 11, 2019
The Fisheries Department thanked the aquarium and the response team for their help in assisting the mother and calf after the whales were spotted near Centennial Park, in Delta, B.C., not far from the U.S. border.
There have been several reports of grey whales washing ashore along the North American coast this year as the whales make their annual migration north from Mexico to Alaska.
Experts have said several of the whales have died from malnutrition, although others have been struck by ships.
‘They Enjoy Making Contact’
Whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon often approach tourist boats. One World One Ocean uploaded a clip from whales seeking “human interaction.”
“While they could easily avoid the people, whose small boats are not allowed to closely approach whales, they actually seem to enjoy making contact,” it states.
The San Ignacio Lagoon is located on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, and it serves as a destination for hundreds of gray whales who head there from the Arctic Ocean each year.
“Here, where the water is shallow and warm, they give birth to their young,” One World says.
According to National Geographic, gray whales are typically covered with parasites.
“The whale uses its snout to forage by dislodging tiny creatures from the seafloor. It then filters these morsels with its baleen—a comblike strainer of plates in the upper jaw. A piece of gray whale baleen, also called whalebone, is about 18 inches long and has a consistency much like a fingernail. Whalebone was once used to make ladies’ corsets and umbrella ribs,” according to National Geographic.
The whales, meanwhile, are protected by international law, and their numbers have grown.
“In 1994, the gray whale was removed from the United States endangered species list,” the National Geographic article says.
The WWF says the gray whale “a dorsal hump followed by nine to 13 bumps along their dorsal ridges” and can “produce a range of sounds including moans, rumbles and growls.”
“The most prevalent call is a series of knocking sounds. Gray whales were known by whalers as ‘devilfish’ because they defended themselves and their calves so fiercely,” says the website.
Whales in the Baja California area (like the above video) are known for being “friendly,” the site says, adding that “they have an unusual tendency to approach whale-watching boats and even let whale-watchers touch them and scratch their tongues.”
Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips and The Canadian Press contributed to this report.