Caught on cam: Boat nearly hits pod of humpback whales
A Sechelt man has captured a vessel nearly hitting a pod of humpback whales Tuesday morning.
Gerald Shaffer, director of West Coast Wildlife, was on a beach off Roberts Creek observing boats in the Strait of Georgia when he and some volunteers spotted a pod of humpback whales.
Then moments later, a vessel appeared out of the blue.
"We were all a little anxious watching this boat come upon a pod of humpbacks that we were watching. It really came from out of nowhere and at quite a speed," Shaffer told CTV News.
Shaffer and the volunteers typically radio nearby boaters whenever there are pods of whales in the water.
"Our radios is usually a great tool for us to say, 'There are whales in this area, please slow down,'" he said.
But this time, they weren't able to do that because their radios needed to be replaced and they are working to get new ones.
"We weren't able to do anything and we're quite concerned. We don't have very many of these lovely animals left and if their days is playing frogger for their lives then it is concerning."
Shaffer was worried the boat may have hit the animal, adding encounters between whales and boats happen often.
"I've seen four close calls in the last two weeks," he said. "It happens more than I'd like to admit because my eyes aren't on the water all the time."
He shared the video on social media and alerted the Vancouver Aquarium.
The aquarium confirmed its head veterinarian and the manager of the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network reviewed the video.
It said it appears to be a very close call and the mammals were not hit.
How to be smart around whales
The Vancouver Aquarium said vessel traffic in the waters has steadily been growing, adding it puts more pressures on marine animals and their habitats.
Its Be Whale Wise program helps to educate boaters to best protect marine life.
According to its guidelines, boaters must keep a minimum of 100 metres away from most whales, dolphins and porpoises; and a minimum of 200 metres away if they are in a resting position or with a calf. It is also illegal to approach any population of killer whales within 200 metres.
Boaters are encouraged to slow down to seven knots when within 400 metres of the nearest marine mammal to reduce the engine's noise.
Vessels must always approach and department from the side to move parallel to the mammal's direction and never in front of or behind them.
Anyone who witnesses a person disturbing or harassing wildlife is encouraged to report it.