Whales on verge of extinction now thriving in B.C. waters
Thursday, July 14, 2016, 3:57 PM - Humpback whales were once thought to be near-extinct along the B.C. coast. Now, they appear to be thriving in the Salish sea, according to local whale-watching companies.
According to the Pacific Whale Watch Association, (PWWA) the number of whales in the area is "unprecedented", especially around the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
It's part of an upward trend that's been taking place for three or four years.
While whales usually travel in groups of two or three in the Salish sea, PWWA executive director Michael Harris told Global News groups of 20 are now being observed, similar to the conditions only found in Alaska and Hawaii.
Humpbacks were virtually gone from the area by 1966, the year commercial whaling was banned.
"They were listed under the Endangered Species Act for many years, and they were down to about 1,600," Harris told the CBC.
"Now they have bounced back to about 21,000 in this north Pacific population that we see. That's a lot of whales."
It's difficult to say if the population will continue to increase but for now, experts are calling the "humpback comeback" a success.
"They're ... exploding out of the air and acting like they're comfortable and they belong here," Harris told the CBC.
VIDEO: AMAZING ENCOUNTER WITH A HUMPBACK WHALE: