Researchers discover mysterious ‘wave pattern’ among humpback whales

Researchers discover mysterious ‘wave pattern’ among humpback whales

A years-long study on humpback whales in a creek on B.C.'s North Coast has revealed previously unknown pattern of movement among massive marine creatures.

A team of researchers surveyed the whales in the Kitimat creek system from 2005 to 2014 and found that the marine creatures move in a “wave pattern” from the outer channels in the spring inward into the creeks in the fall.

Lead researcher Janie Wray, of the North Coast Cetacean Society, said that the wave pattern was never recorded in other humpback whales in similar habitats.

Sharing their findings, Wray said, “The big question is why … We think there is a social component we don’t quite understand just yet. It could be companionship. Given whales are really quite vocal creatures, it could be acoustics of a particular area.”

The study coincided with the return of the humpback whales in the area. The number of whales drastically increased from just 42 in 2004 to more than 430 in 2016, making the wave pattern observable.

The researchers reported their findings in the most-recent edition of the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.