Whale ID mystery SOLVED!
Confirmed after 7 years – Cirque IS Glacier’s calf!

How this unfolded:

On January 11th, 2017, friend of MERS, Geoff Dunstan, shared photos of two whales he documented in Discovery Passage near Quadra Island. One whale we immediately recognized as Glacier (BCX1383) but we had no previous documentation of the second whale.

The size of that whale, the way the whales appeared to be associating, and the milky colouration of the whale’s fluke suggested this was her calf. But we did not know for sure. Humpback calves only stay with their mothers for about one year and this was the only known sighting of the two whales being together.

HW 2017 01 11 GeoffDunstan Discovery Passage 10
HW 2017 01 11 GeoffDunstan Discovery Passage 11

We asked Geoff to suggest a nickname for the unknown whale and Cirque was chosen in part because of the association with the possible mother’s name.

But we still had our doubts about whether Cirque was Glacier’s calf.

This Spring, we received a treasure trove of photos from Rolf Hicker dating back to 2002. Included were photos from September 6, 2016 that showed the same small whale closely associating with Glacier.

This allowed us to conclude, after seven years, that we now know FOR SURE that Cirque (BCY1059) is Glacier’s first known calf. We also now know for sure that Cirque was born in 2016, most likely in Hawaii because Glacier was documented in that breeding ground.

HW 2016 09 20 RolfHicker KnightInl 7V 2700 3119
HW 2016 09 06 RolfHicker NEVI 7V 0279 1

If you have historic Humpback Whale photos, you too could have valuable puzzle pieces that help with whale IDs, and therefore, whale conservation. To submit data, please see www.BCHumpbacks.com.

More information about Cirque and Glacier:

Glacier has not been seen since 2022. Some of you may recall that we posted about Glacier being in very poor condition in July 2022 with the message “sometimes whales need even more space”. She has not been documented anywhere since mid-August 2022.

Cirque (BCY1059) is a survivor of vessel strike. Scars from a boat propeller were first noted in 2019. Cirque had her first known calf in 2021, nicknamed Moulin in keeping with the glaciology theme.

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Learn more about Cirque in this social media post.

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