The mayor of a small town in southwestern Nova Scotia caused quite a stir when he posted photos of an unusual sighting off the town’s shore – a nearby group of humpback whales. Since Digby Mayor Ben Cleveland shared the photos on Facebook, crowds have flocked to the area in the hopes of a catching a glimpse of the majestic creatures for themselves.
Cleveland told CTV Atlantic that he’s often out capturing photos of birds and marine life when he isn’t working. He said he was emailed a tip from some residents on Sunday, telling him they had seen whales swimming by Point Prim overlooking the Bay of Fundy, just minutes away from the town.
“I had my camera with me and I ran down to the rocks,” Cleveland said Monday. “You never know what you’re going to see when you’re out here.”
When the mayor reached the hill he witnessed an incredible scene – two adult whales with a young one “constantly breaching” in the waves. On his Facebook post about the “unbelievable show,” Cleveland said he took 300 photos of the humpbacks.
Although whale sightings in the Bay of Fundy are fairly common, spotting a group of them in such close proximity to the town is not. Greg Turner, who operates an eco-tourism business in the area and has a background in marine studies, believes the whales strayed from the Brier Island area where they are more commonly seen, likely in pursuit of food.
“They’re following the herring up the bay and there’s a good supply perhaps, and they’re just coming up here to have a little snack,” Turner said.
Turner claimed he witnessed a spectacle similar to the one Cleveland experienced earlier this month.
“I had a family of four here from Toronto and we watched a whale breach out in Digby Gut three times, then it went down,” Turner said. “Few minutes later, it came back up right against the shore, no more than 30 metres away from us.”
Cleveland credits his Facebook post with the increased traffic from locals and tourists visiting Point Prim. He said there is already a group working to improve the scenic spot to attract tourists seeking a glimpse of the province’s stunning marine life.
“The parking lot is full of cars,” Cleveland said. “Just people hoping to see the whales.”
With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Suzette Belliveau