Stay away from English Bay grey whale, warns DFO
Published Thursday, October 8, 2015 12:49PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 8, 2015 3:46PM PDT
Federal fisheries officials are warning Vancouverites against getting up close and personal with the grey whale that’s been spotted in the waters off English Bay this past week.
Beachgoers and boaters alike have been getting too close while trying to get a glimpse of the marine mammal frolicking in the urban waters, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
People in kayaks, canoes and even paddle boards have been seen trailing the massive cetacean through the waters as it cavorts near the shore.
DFO spokeperson Leri Davies says in the excitement of the moment people forget that their presence – and noise – can negatively affect whales, disrupting their search for food or preventing them from getting proper rest – or even caring for their young.
“In short, our interactions with marine wildlife may cause them unnecessary stress, which could potentially threaten their lives,” Davies said.
"Marine mammals are so sensitive to that noise. It can really affect them."
Passing directly in front or behind a whale can impede its path when it’s trying to hunt, feed or just escape the crowds.
This isn’t the first incident of the public getting too close to marine mammals. The DFO says it happened when a pod of orcas surfaced around Coal Harbour, and when whales were recently spotted in Deep Cove and Burrard Inlet. There were also reports that people were flying drone aircrafts just over the water’s surface.
Boaters are being reminded to stay at least 100 metres away from marine wildlife. If they don’t respect that distance, charges of disturbing marine mammals are possible under the Fisheries Act. The charges carry a penalty of up to one year in jail, and fines of up to $100,000.
The DFO is asking anyone who sees someone interacting with a whale to call its Observe and Report line at 1-800-465-4336. The line goes to its radio room and is forwarded to officers in the field who can investigate.
#Vancouver VPD Marine squad responding to English Bay for several small power boats circling & disturbing a grey whale— ScanBC (@ScanBC) October 3, 2015
Grey whale and paddle board yoga….very very Vancouver! pic.twitter.com/xlZJa83EDH— Jocelyn (@gloce99) October 5, 2015