Soon, most of the chatter and news about Tofino, Ucluelet and Pacific Rim National Park will be all about whales, whales, whales. It's just a few weeks until this year's Pacific Rim Whale Festival and the local whale watching companies are getting their boats and crews together for the start of the new season. It's the migration of the grey whales that drives this festival, as on their northward migration they stay quite close to shore. Here's an article that talks about the migration and the festival too, but it was the mention of Varara a grey whale from the western Pacific that piqued my curiosity. She's a tagged whale so we can watch where she's been. Here's a map tracking her movements from a few weeks ago as she started her journey north from Baja.
Grey whales were protected in the 1930s, when their populations were perilously low. While the population of grey whales from the eastern Pacific has recovered (more than 20,000 individuals) and is no longer considered endangered, the same cannot be said for the western Pacific population which is a dismal 130 animals or so.