An unexpected increase in humpback whales in B.C.’s coastal waters this year has resulted in a record number of entanglements in nets, lines, traps and related commercial fishing gear.

Paul Cottrell, marine mammal coordinator with the federal fisheries department, has received reports of a record 22 whale entanglements in the province so far this year, including 21 humpbacks and one grey whale. In a typical year there are 10 to 15.

“It’s a very unfortunate series of incidents,” Cottrell said Thursday. “We’re interested in investigating to find out what happened and what can be done to prevent it going forward.”

Humpbacks have been recovering steadily since the era of commercial whaling but have been observed in unusually high numbers off B.C. this year. They are also staying longer before migrating to breeding and calving grounds in Hawaii and Mexico.


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