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Researchers make rare sighting of a sperm whale near Alert Bay, B.C.

VANCOUVER — Researchers studying the activity of whales off british Columbia’s coast had a very unusual encounter this week with a sperm whale.

Jared Towers monitors the sound of cetaceans and marine mammals using a network of hydrophones in the Johnstone Strait off northeastern Vancouver Island for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

He says his team heard an unusual echolocation on Feb. 11 that they determined didn’t belong to orcas, but was coming from the sperm whale.

Once weather conditions improved the next day, Towers says they went out onto the water tracking the sound and finally spotted the whale.

He says the last time a sperm whale was documented in B.C. was in 1984, and it was only heard, not seen.

The whales are normally far offshore and Towers says it’s unclear why this whale was so close, but the sighting was a surreal opportunity.


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