WATCH: According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, a humpback whale found dead near Tsawwassen earlier this month was likely a victim of a “catastrophic ship strike.” As Mary Griffin reports, with an increase in the whale population in local waters, so does the diligence to protect the marine mammals.
Onlookers were concerned about what happened to the humpback floating in water not far from the Tsawwassen ferry terminal on Nov. 16.
Anna Seal wanted to see for herself.
“I worry about the whales getting hit pretty hard lately it seems. The Georgia Strait and so on. I hope he didn’t get hit by anything,” Seal said.
The female humpback was towed to Sea Island where a necropsy determined she died as a result of a ship strike, with propeller injuries.
UVic biologist Josh McInnes said large whales are at risk in the ocean.
“Whale strikes are actually one of the number one causes of mortality in large cetaceans,” McInnes said.
Researchers believe there are as many as 500 humpbacks off Washington and British Columbia. With the increase in population, companies, such as BC Ferries, are looking to mitigate their impact on whales in local waters.
“We’re actually been trying to make sure to reduce our underwater radiant noise as well as we have lookouts on our bridges that are there for navigational purposes. But they also look at the potential for whales,” David Fagen is the executive director of safety, health and environment with B.C. Ferries.
According to Marco Mendicino, parliamentary secretary for infrastructure of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is investigating the death.
“Obviously concerning anytime that we lose a whale. That’s why, as I said, the DFO will be taking a look very carefully into the circumstances,” Mendicino said.
With an increase in boat traffic, there is growing concern for the safety of the whales.
“We can get just a few large whale deaths up to, 2015, we had over twenty,” Paul Cottrell, marine mammal co-ordinator for DFO, said.
As the whales compete with vessels on the water, vigilance is necessary to ensure their safety, said McInnes.
“We’ve got to remember that this is their habitat, not ours. And protecting it is one of the number one things that we should be looking at.”