WATCH: An orca has now been swimming around Comox Harbour for nine days and scientists don’t know why it’s not leaving.
Peter Hamilton, a whale researcher with Lifeforce Ocean Friends was on the water again Tuesday hoping to learn something new about transient killer whale T073B that has been hanging around Comox Harbour since last Monday.
“It’s just really a mystery because there’s nothing really blocking him from heading out,” said Hamilton. “If sandbars are a problem then he’s got night time and high tide to get in and out.”
He says orcas have come into the busy harbour before but they never stay more than an hour and the longer this one stays, the more its life is at risk.
“Our first concern is that other orcas have been severely injured by boat propellers and some have died and with the high amount of boat traffic around here there is certainly a high possibility that this orca could get hit by a boat,” added Hamilton.
The whale does not appear to be eating because birds haven’t been seen circling anything it has killed and a lethargic whale could be more easily struck.
There’s also the acoustic disturbance of boat traffic.
“If there’s acoustic masking going on in the environment from vessel sounds they have the ability to mask the noise of the animal’s prey or the sounds of other whales if there are any in the area,” said Jared Towers, a Department of Fisheries and Oceans killer whale specials.
All vessels need to stay 200 metres away from any orca.