Southern resident orcas off the west coast of Vancouver Island earlier this month. (DFO Pacific/Twitter)

Editorial: Admire killer whales, but from a distance

Boaters need to make an effort to stay 200 metres from killer whales

We’re lucky that killer whales are being neighbourly these days around Vancouver Island harbours, and now we need to be good neighbours, too, and give them space.

Orcas have been active this spring and summer. Whale-watching excursions are going well, harbour traffic has paused to let killer whales pass by, and even the Nanaimo dragonboat races this year saw a brief delay due to a pod’s presence on the racecourse.

RELATED: Rare white orca seen in the strait near Nanaimo

We’re happy to see them, but we need to be able to temper our enthusiasm. We’ve heard a couple of recent reports, including one this week, of boats crowding the killer whales. A reader said four orcas seen feeding off Saysutshun Newcastle Island quickly had five boats descend upon them.

Coincidentally, this week Fisheries and Oceans Canada released a report on a southern resident killer whale that died of blunt trauma, likely from a ship, two winters ago.

RELATED: Southern resident killer whale died of blunt trauma, likely from ship

Nobody is trying to crash into killer whales at sea, especially not the endangered southern residents, but coming too close can disturb, stress or harm marine mammals, says the government of Canada. In critical habitat areas, staying 400 metres away from killer whales is the law. In areas not considered a critical habitat area, vessels must still keep 200 metres away. That includes not only the southern residents, but also the transients – as DFO tells us, it can be hard for a layperson to tell the difference, so best to be on the safe side, and in any case, the transients are a threatened eco-type themselves.

It could be argued that the federal government is asking us to do as they say, not as they do, as they push for pipeline expansion that would lead to increased tanker traffic, but that might be a topic for another editorial. Certainly, it shouldn’t lessen our determination to save the whales.

RELATED: Orcas active around Vancouver Island’s southeast coast

Killer whales been swimming the Salish Sea since time immemorial, and even after all this time, it’s a special thing to see them. And they’ll continue to call this place a home, so long as we’re content to admire them from afar and leave them be.



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Prince Harry reunites with Meghan and Archie in Victoria

Buckingham Palace said Tuesday it would not comment on private matters

Vancouver Island home to one of Canada’s largest private skateboard collections

Eric Pinto owns hundreds of boards, spanning multiple decades

Dogs no longer welcome at major Greater Victoria mall

New dog policy begins March 1 at Hillside Shopping Centre

Drivesmart: Pedestrian visibility at night a matter of life and death

Walk to stay alive: the pedestrian is always the loser in a collision

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: Study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

VIDEO: Greater Victoria mom shares ‘insane’ experience of viral dinosaur video

Tabitha Cooper filmed her costumed sons meeting their grandma at the Victoria International Airport

Skier dies at Fernie Alpine Resort

It’s the second person to die in a tree well at a ski resort in B.C. in the past week.

Put away the shovels, week of rain ahead for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada calling for wet weather until Sunday

Dog dies, Victoria man arrested after incident in Oaklands

Police called to ‘incident between a man and a dog’ Monday afternoon

What Campbell River got up to on its ‘Snow Day’ last week

We asked people to send us photos of what they were doing last Thursday after the big dump of snow

Saanich Police ask for help locating missing high-risk youth

Robyn Coker-Steel has not been in contact with anyone from her home since Dec. 27

Former Sidney mayor calls on local MLA Adam Olsen to resign over ferry blockade

Olsen has rejected the demand, calling Price’s language divisive and responsible for polarization

Six boat wrecks wash up on Cadboro Bay beaches over the weekend

Dead Boat Society working with Oak Bay, Saanich to clear derelict boats

Tech consortium invests $25 million into 14 research projects, two at UVic

Investments come with goal of developing, implement technologies created by Canadians

Most Read