Another humpback whale has washed up on shore in British Columbia — bringing the total of dead whales to at least four in the past month.
The whale was discovered Sunday near Naikoon Provincial Park on Haida Gwaii. Fisheries and Oceans Canada said it was notified of the whale on Monday.
Lara Sloan, a spokesperson with DFO, said Haida Gwaii fishery officers along with a Haida biologist are taking samples, measurements and photos of the whale.
Experts believe it might have been one of the whales spotted floating in the ocean a few weeks ago.
“The deceased humpback that was reported [floating] near Prince Rupert in mid-October could be one of the recently reported animals,” Sloan said. However, the advanced decomposition of the carcasses makes it impossible to confirm, she said.
In an earlier interview, Paul Cottrell, marine mammal co-ordinator at DFO, said they weren’t sure of the number of dead whales.
“We have to be careful about double-counting animals because they do float around,” he said.
The whale found Sunday is the fourth to have washed up since Oct. 23, when a female humpback was found dead off Malcolm Island. Nicknamed Spike, she had suffered blunt force trauma.
On Nov. 5, a young male was found dead and had signs of blunt force trauma but experts have not been able to positively identify him. Eight days later, another carcass washed up. It hasn’t been identified due to the heavy decay.
Necropsies are being performed on all of the mammals.
Urgent health concern
DFO is asking the public and their pets to keep a safe distance from the dead whales following reports that dogs on Haida Gwaii became ill after ingesting whale meat.
The warning came on Nov. 16 after a whale washed up dead in the area of Masset Inlet.
Fishery officer Chase Edwards said there are concerns around botulism and also that marine mammal meat and blubber can contain high levels of toxins and heavy metals.
Anyone who witnesses or sees a whale in distress is asked to contact DFO’s 24-hour reporting line at 1-800-465-4336.