'Just in time for Mother's Day': First humpback whale calf of the year spotted in B.C.

The first humpback whale calf to be spotted in B.C. this year was seen in the Salish Sea near the U.S./Canada border on Monday.

According to the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) the calf was spotted with mother BCY0324, also known as Big Mama, "just in time for Mother's Day."

"When the news travelled over the radio, there was instant celebration," said PWWA’s executive director, Erin Gless, in a statement Wednesday.

"Big Mama was one of the first humpback whales to repopulate the Salish Sea after the whaling era and has been feeding here regularly since 1997," she said.

"We always look forward to her return, but even more so when she brings a calf with her."

The new calf is the seventh one belonging to Big Mama, and the pair were first seen across the Pacific in Hawaii in February.

The journey form Hawaii to B.C. is a dangerous one, but the PWWA says Big Mama is experienced in making the trip.

The humpbacks are expected to stay in the Salish Sea from spring through to the fall.

In October, researchers with the PWWA and the Center for Whale Research in Washington state said humpback whales were thriving in the Salish Sea, with a record number of new humpback calves being spotted in 2021.

A total of 21 new calves were confirmed in the Salish Sea last year, nearly double the 11 calves identified in 2020.

Meanwhile, researchers are also working to confirm if an orca calf recently spotted near Oregon is a member of the K pod of southern resident killer whales, a critically endangered species.