Last week, a winter humpback made a splash off of Ridley Island terminals. The whale is known locally as Thumbtack (BCZUKNC2014_02) named after the tack-shaped marking on the left side of the whale’s fluke. (Ocean Wise photo)

Winter humpback visits Ridley Island

North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative, Ocean Wise, has been cataloguing humpbacks

Humpback whales may be a common site in the waters off of Prince Rupert in the summer time, but did you know they can also be found here in the winter? Last week, one such winter humpback made a splash off of Ridley Island terminals. The whale is known locally as Thumbtack (BCZUKNC2014_02) named after the tack-shaped marking on the left side of the whale’s fluke. The unique shape and markings of the underside of the tail are how researchers distinguish different whales, which also receive an alphanumeric identifier. Thumbtack is a returning visitor and has been observed in this area by North Coast researchers in 2014, 2015, 2017, and now 2019.

The North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative, part of the Ocean Wise Conservation Association, has been cataloguing humpbacks with the help of local observers since 2014. To date, 180 individual whales have been recorded in Chatham Sound and surrounding waters. You can contribute to research on local humpback whales by sending in photos of humpback tail flukes via email ( or reporting sightings of whales via the WhaleReport App or online at

READ MORE: Whale festival makes a splash

It is not uncommon to see humpbacks like Thumbtack in heavily trafficked areas near Prince Rupert. Mariners should be on the look out for these animals and give them space when encountered. New marine mammal regulations require vessels to keep a distance of 100m from most whale species and 200m from killer whales. Boaters can watch for whale blows (exhalations), seabird aggregations (indicating prey and potential feeding), or splashes to indicate whale activity and reduce speed or alter course as necessary.

READ MORE: Stringent seafood labelling system at North Coast fish plant

Send Newsroom email.
Like the The Northern View on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Northwest B.C. leaders divided over oil tanker ban

Senate hearings in Prince Rupert and Terrace show Bill C-48 is at a crossroads

Speakers announced for TEDx talks in Prince Rupert Apr. 19

Seven speakers will present on topics ranging from aquaculture to medicine to Indigenous culture

Prince Rupert’s alternate school students find Pura Vida in Costa Rica

Pacific Coast School organized an international school trip for the first time

Gas prices spike in northern B.C. ahead of the long weekend

Fuel went up 17 cents overnight in Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert’s 2019 budget passed, $15K raise for mayor

City council members to receive 25 per cent of what the mayor makes

It was no Kentucky Derby: B.C. girls host foot-long snail race

Two Grade 3 students in White Rock put four snails to the test in a hotly-contested street race

Man airlifted to hospital after apparent hunting incident in East Kootenay

The man was in stable condition when he was flown out of Fairmont Hot Springs to a Calgary hospital

Police probe eight fires set at B.C. elementary school

Nanaimo RCMP say fires appear to have been set intentionally

Undercover cops don’t need warrant to email, text suspected child lurers: court

High court decision came Thursday in the case of Sean Patrick Mills of Newfoundland

Whitecaps fans stage walkout over club’s response to allegations against B.C. coach

Soccer coach has been suspended by Coastal FC since February

Three climbers presumed dead after avalanche in Banff National Park

One of the men is American and the other two are from Europe, according to officials

VIDEO: Trump tried to seize control of Mueller probe, report says

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select sailings

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries will be available on the Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

Most Read