Endangered Sei Whales Reappeared in Canadian Waters After Being Last Seen in 1960s

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A team of researchers that were watching marine life off British Columbia’s coast didn’t expect to see Sei whales. These creatures disappeared from the Canadian waters for more than a half a century. Thomas Doniol-Valcroze (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) was there this summer:

“This was very exciting because we didn’t expect it. People on my team had never seen them.”

The Sei Whale is related to blue and fin whales, and it is the fastest marine mammal in the world.

In the North Pacific, there were only 60,000 Sei Whales, but whalers started killing them. In the 1960s, whaling was banned, but Canadians haven’t spotted a single Sei whale before the ban.

Recordings of Sei Whales Similar to The Sounds Heard

In 2006, reports showed two sightings of Sei whales in Pacific (between 1991 and 2001), but they were off the west coast of the US.

Doniol-Valcroze was there when they spotted the Sei whales. They used floating sonar devices to hear whales calls:

“Sei whales are so rare nobody is actually completely sure what they sound like here in the Northeast Pacific.”

That’s when they started hearing sounds, which according to other recordings from other places, were made by Sei whales:

“We started hearing them more and more and that led us to finding them and seeing them for the first time many years.”

The Team Saw The Whales With Binoculars

They used binoculars and saw five Sei whales swimming with a pod of fin whales.

This observation was made during a 10-week survey conducted to count or estimate Canada’s Pacific mammals populations. The team also observed a lot more harbor porpoises than they anticipated.

However, the team did not see enough sei whales, and could not say exactly how many Sei whales there are in Canada’s Pacific.

This species of whales is part of the list of endangered animals in Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere