The whales that travel from Kitimat to Lahaina

Robin Rowland
3 min readAug 21

There is an interesting connection between Kitimat and Lahaina the site of the Maui fire disaster last week.

After I saw the item on CBS Morning Sunday News last Sunday about the Happy Whale tracking site, I uploaded all the photos I captured of humpback whales in Douglas Channel over the past few years.

Of the seven whales that were identified, two stand out because of the recent events.

According to the tracking system a humpack named “Tanu” with the scientfic desginations PWF-NP_2551 and SPLASH-460100, which I photographed on August 28, 2017 at Bishop Bay, was seen on January 29, 2023 off Laihani in Maui where the fires destroyed the town last week and also off Maui close to Lahaina on March 11 and 12 2020.

There’s a good chance that Tanu may be in Douglas Channel right now as I post this on August 28, 2023.. Other sightings were off Gil Island September 2, 2012 Blue water adventures, in Consave Passage August 9, 2006 North Coast Caetacean Society and off Port McNeil August 8, 2004 DFO.

A second whale, unnamed but disignated BCY0971, I photographed off Eagle Bay also on August 28, 2017 and by the North Coast Caetacean Society off Gil Island on August 31, 2015 was seen off Lahaina on March 6, 2022.

You can check out my other humpback encounters

Data is still sparse but it appears that many of the humpbacks in the Channel may be choosing to come direct to Douglas Channel rather than cruising up and down the coast. If you have humpback photos, you can register and upload your own humpback photos to support that tracking at

Originally published at on August 21, 2023.

Robin Rowland

Independent visual journalist in Kitimat, BC, Canada. Author of five books, more at