Some lucky Vancouverites got treated to a rare sighting over the weekend. A humpback whale swam to Vancouver and gave the city a friendly wave with its giant tail. One lucky harbour patrol officer managed to snap a few photos of the creature as it surfaced for just a moment.

A harbour patrol boat with the Port of Vancouver saw the creature on Friday morning, May 22, according to their social media. Its tail was seen bobbing near the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver's inner harbour — that's right next to the centre of the city, with West Vancouver visible in the background.

The Port told Narcity that humpbacks are only seen in the harbour two or three times a year. The photos were snapped up by their harbour patrol officer, Rob Grant.

"Typically it's orcas so a humpback is quite noteworthy," they said.

The Port continued that if you see a whale, you should report it using the whale reporting app. That way, researchers can better know how many whales there are and where they're hanging out in the area.

The info also goes to nearby ships so they know to watch out and avoid collisions.

National Geographic says that they can get up to 19 metres long (they're about the size of a school bus) and weigh up to 36,000 kg.

According to the Vancouver Aquarium's conservation program Oceanwise, humpbacks are "greatly impacted by human activity," and especially vulnerable to being hit by passing ships or getting tangled in nets of crab trap lines.

The tail of a whale is called a "fluke," which gets raised high when it prepares for a deep dive, according to Oceanwise. It's pretty common for humpbacks to wave their tails around or to slap them on the water's surface, they continue.

Although the Port said they only got two or three humpbacks a year, another sighting was reported earlier in the same month on Reddit. Their video showed the whale breaching — jumping out of the water and flopping back in.

Although B.C. is known for whale watching, it's still rare and pretty impressive to see one right near the heart of the city.

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