The humpback whale population near Prince Rupert is in the area feeding and with the numbers of the whales, incidents involving boaters increases and a campaign has been launched with the hopes of reducing these incidents.
The Marine Education and Research Society has come up with the tag line “See a blow? Go slow” the message is simple and according to Caitlin Birdsall, sole member of the Vancouver Aquarium’s North Coast Initiative if boaters heed the warning, the number of whales injured by vessels of various sizes can be reduced.
Out on the east coast 7 whales have been found dead in one area over just a matter of a week or so and about half appear to have been struck by large cargo vessels.
Birdsall says there have been incidents near Prince Rupert. Just a week back there was a small fishing skiff from a lodge on Haida Gwaii come into collision with a whale that surfaced just ahead of the boat. The four people on the boat were pitched forward violently, but suffered no serious injuries, the whale also escaped serious harm.
But Birdsall says incidents like that should heighten awareness of boaters that they share the ocean with things much larger than they.
As well as looking out for whales blowing air, boaters should also keep an eye on birds. They eat what the whales do so, if you see a flock of birds circling above the water there is probably a food source and where there is a food source, whales may be near by.
If you do strike a whale or other marine mammal or if you spot an animal in distress, you need to contact the marine mammals response network toll free at 1-800-465-4336