Featured Image Credit: Maya’s Legacy Whale Watching
By Laura O’Brien
Three researchers from the Pacific Biological Station snapped some excellent pictures of an extremely rare sighting of a sperm whale named Yukusam within inshore waters. The sighting occurred close just off the coast of Nanaimo, B.C., on May 28th. Jessica Torode from the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network stated, “it’s unclear to why he’s here. He could just be searching out a new region, looking for fish in this area. Normally, they’re found quite far offshore, usually off the continental slope, so you won’t really see them”. The sighting follows just two records of sperm whales in the area. The more recent sighting was in March when Yukusam was spotted in the Johnstone Strait, and the earlier record was an acoustic recording from the same strait in 1984.
Torode described sperm whale’s defining features as “[a] large boxy square head, brownish grey tinged color and wrinkly skin like a prune”. Sperm whales also have a small, rounded bump for their dorsal hump, and can grow as large as 59 feet in some cases. In fact, Herman Melville’s iconic novel “Moby Dick” was based on a sperm whale. The huge cetaceans are known for their deep dives, which can force them to hold their breath for 90 minutes before surfacing. Sperm whales are also known to rest on the surface of the water, which puts them at great risk of vessel strikes.