Whale watching tour accused of getting too close to orca pod
Published Monday, August 17, 2015 7:53PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, August 17, 2015 8:00PM PDT
A B.C. woman is filing a complaint against a whale watching company she claims ventured dangerously close to an orca pod with its boat engine running.
Coquitlam resident Chris Bellet said there were several recreational boats on the water in Okeover Inlet near Desolation Sound on Friday when the pod appeared.
According to Bellet, all the boats stayed a safe distance away except one whale watching tour.
“It looked to me like they were within 20 metres or less,” she told CTV News. “They were full throttle, so they weren’t drifting slowly toward them. They literally motored right on top of them.”
Bellet snapped photos of the boat, which is operated by Eagle Eye Adventures, just as the whales surfaced to exhale.
“It made me angry they would go so close and disturb them,” she said.
The Fisheries Act requires boaters to stay at least 100 metres away from whales, and reduce speed to less than seven knots when within 400 metres.
Eagle Eye Adventures owner Jos Krynen said the whales abruptly popped up near the boat, and the employee driving promptly turned off the engines.
“Incidents will happen. And it’s not only us, it happens to everybody in town,” Krynen said. “But we try to keep it to a minimum.”
Bellet said she’s complaining to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which has promised to investigate the incident.
The DFO asked anyone with video taken of the whale encounter on Friday to contact it.
Last year, a former employee of Eagle Eye Adventures was charged and convicted of disturbing killer whales. The incident took place in 2010, the year before Krynen bought the company.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Lisa Rossington