A gentle giant dies

humpback whale dies in White Rock

Photo by Nick Procaylo, The Vancouver Sun
People looking at a whale on White Rock Beach.

Adapted from The Vancouver Sun

Level 2

Hundreds of people come to White Rock beach that day in June.
Some cannot believe what they see.
They stand quietly. Some are sad.
Others are angry.
Some come with flowers.
Many take photos.
First Nations people dance.
They play a drum.
A Grade 4 teacher hears the news.
Then she walks her class down to the beach.

What do they see?
A large animal lies on the sand.
It is 8.5 meters from head to tail.
It has meters of heavy nylon line in its mouth.  More line is around its tail.
The animal is not healthy.
It is very thin.  The heavy nylon line stopped the whale from swimming fast.
The line also stopped the whale from diving deep.
Whales must dive to get enough food.
This whale suffered for months.

Police get the news
Early that morning the RCMP got a phone call.
Someone said she saw a whale.
The police rushed to the beach.
The whale was still breathing.
But it died an hour later.

Not an everyday sight
The young animal was a humpback whale. It was about three years old.
These whales grow until they are ten years old.
That means this one was just a baby.
A woman spoke to reporters.
She has lived two blocks away since 1978.
She said she never saw a whale on the beach before.

About humpbacks
There are 2,600 humpbacks in B.C. waters.
Their population is slowly growing each year.
A total of 18,000 humpbacks live in the north Pacific.

Years ago
From the late 1800s to 1965, hunters killed 28,000 humpbacks.
Only 1,500 were left in 1965.  But a law was passed soon after.
Now no one can kill humpback whales.

Something good
A scientist from the Vancouver Aquarium says there is one good thing
about seeing this whale.  It means that the humpbacks
are in local waters again.
People sometimes see them now near Victoria, Nanaimo
and the Gulf Islands.  But humpback whales are not an everyday sight.