Navy responds to whale watchers’ concerns about demolition exercises

Navy responds to whale watchers' concerns about demolition exercises

The Royal Canadian Navy is responding to concerns from whale watchers about the effect of its demolition exercises on whales. Calvin To reports.

The Royal Canadian Navy is changing its procedures in response to concerns from whale watchers about the effect of its demolition exercises on nearby whale populations.

Since the last incident on August 31, the navy has increased its safety radius from one to two kilometres, along with reducing the number of explosives used by half.

Military officials say the new measures are just a precaution and that whales were not at risk previously.

“The data that we have to date shows that there are no population level effects from demolitions training at Bentinck Island,” said Mike Waters from the Maritime Forces Safety and Environment Branch.

The Pacific Whale Watch Association says it hasn’t seen any incidents since Aug. 31. Since then, it says the navy has been more responsive, and communication now goes through a senior watch officer.

During a demonstration set up by the navy for local media, a humpback whale came within 400 metres of shore. It delayed the detonation by a couple hours.

“This happens not every day and sometimes not every week, but sometimes it happens on a daily basis for a two-week span,” said Lt. Andre Bard.

According to navy officials, a 2002 study found that sound from explosions was not noticeable in the water. A redo of that study is planned for the near future.

The navy is also planning a similar demonstration for the whale-watching community with the hope of improving their relationship.

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