Humpback whale muggings are on the rise in the waters off of British Columbia, but no one will be making a phone call to their constable for help. This is because the type of mugging being spoken of is what the whale-watching industry refers to as a close encounter with a young humpback whale.
For businesses taking customers out for sightseeing in the icy waters of the Salish Sea, there's no guarantee that a juvenile humpback whale will be spotted. However, there have been an increase of sightings recently which provide patrons a thrill.
“We were held hostage,” Andrea Hardaker, manager of Wild Whales Vancouver, joked of one such experience this summer.
“The passengers loved it. But they don’t know what to expect on the trip. Whatever they see they think is normal. For our guides and the captains, we know it isn’t normal. It can be a little scary.”
The thrills are not without caution though. The whales are powerful mammals and are known to draw close to the vessels and interact with the passengers. There's no danger from any aggressive or predatory behavior per se, but the humpbacks are powerful creatures and that must always be respected.
One sea captain said that when the humpbacks decide to interact with a ship, the only option is to power the vessel down and let them interact. The sessions usually last 15 minutes, but some have gone on for two hours. With the increase migrations of the humpbacks in the area, sightings are expected to be more common.
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Humpback ‘muggings’ being reported on B.C. coast - Whale-watching vessels are receiving unusually close encounters by curious juveniles in the Salish Sea
Humpback ‘muggings’ being reported on B.C. coast