Humpback whale BCY0291

Humpback whale BCY0291

Boat collision injures young humpback

The young humpback whale known as "KC" injured in boat collision.

The young humpback whale known as “KC” is portrayed leaping joyfully in a full breach on the cover of the current North Island Visitors’ Guide.

But he was laid low when he was struck by a boat off the coast of Vancouver Island in late August.

“While, fortunately, KC’s injuries seem superficial (at least for now), this incident is not an isolated one and serves to illustrate the growing problem of vessel strikes on the B.C. coast,” Caitlin Birdsall wrote on the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network blog Wild Whales.

KC, officially identified as BCY0291, came away from the encounter with what appears to be propellor scarring on his dorsal fin. Otherwise, he appeared to be in good condition when photographed following the incident by Jackie Hildering of the Marine Education and Research Society (MERS).

Details of the strike are unknown, as it was not reported. But KC’s boat encounter is just the latest in a series of near-misses — and one notable whale-boat collision — this year in B.C.’s coastal waters. In May, Ray Boyd of Campbell River required facial surgery after a whale breached in front of his boat and collided with it near Kelsey Bay.

That whale was not spotted in the immediate aftermath of the strike and its ultimate fate is unknown.

The incident prompted whale researchers to renew their call for heightened awareness on the part of boaters, with increasing numbers of humpback whales plying local waters over the past decade. Adult humpbacks range from 13 to 14 metres long and can weigh up to 40 tonnes, said Christy McMillan, president of MERS, and their behaviour in the water can be highly unpredictable.

“Baleen whales surface unpredictably, much different from how boat operators are conditioned to expect as their experience is most often with killer whales,” Hildering said. “Humpbacks are new back to the coast and are in unpredictable locations.”

Humpback whales have returned to the straits off Vancouver Island’s east coast in substantial numbers after several decades of infrequent sightings, the result of commercial whaling in the 20th century. Their return requires a new level of awareness on the part of both tour operators and private vessel owners, both MERS and the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network caution.

To help avoid collisions and protect the health of both humans and whales:

• Be on the lookout for blows at all times. Large whale blows can often be seen from a long distance;

• Be aware that humpbacks may surface unpredictably, sometimes after 5-10 minutes underwater;

• Use extra caution when travelling at high speed;

• Ask marinas where humpbacks have been sighted frequently and reduce speed in these areas;

• If you know of a collision or see boats driving recklessly around whales, call the DFO’s Marine Mammal Incident Reporting hotline at 1-800-465-4336.

• If you spot the distinctive whale flag, an orange-yellow-and-black circular image bearing a humpback fluke, on a nearby vessel, it means whales are in the area. Slow down and watch for blows.

 

Just Posted

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Council votes to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of mass grave sites being found

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

Port Hardy Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire around 3:50 a.m. on Sunday, June 13. Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street. Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP at 250-949-6335. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue photo)
Firefighters respond to early morning fire near visitor centre in Port Hardy

Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street

North Island MLA Michele Babchuk. Photo contributed
COMMENTARY: MLA Michele Babchuk talks the future of forestry

‘These forests are important to every single one of us, myself included’

Dr. Prean Armogam hands over a cheque for $10,000 to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society president Rosaline Glynn. The money will be going towards a new roof for the Port Hardy seniors centre. This is the second donation Dr. Armogam has made to the society, giving them $5,000 a little over a year ago. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Doctor donates $10k to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society for new roof

This was the second donation Armogam has given to the society

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ restart plan

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

A view of the outside of St. Andrews Roman Catholic Cathedral on Victoria’s Blanshard Street. (Don Denton/News staff)
Vancouver Island bishop apologizes for church’s role in residential schools

Bishop Gary Gordon of the Diocese of Victoria voices commitment to healing and reconciliation

Most Read