Boaters are being urged to take "extreme care" while out on the water right now as a humpback whale off of Point Grey appears to been injured by a vessel strike.
The whale has a deep gouge on its back near its tail, according to a press release from Ocean Wise. The whale has been in the area since early April, but on Sunday, April 11 a group on a whale-watching boat spotted the wound.
“This is a very upsetting situation because it is all too common,” says Ocean Wise biologist Jessica Scott, who also manages the BC Cetacean Sightings Network. “It is precisely for this reason that Ocean Wise created the citizen science-driven WhaleReport Alert System.”
Humpback whales are particularly susceptible to vessel strikes due to their behaviour. They can stay submerged for over 15 minutes and like to feed near the surface, so they may be hard to see even when they're nearby. Scott notes that both humpbacks and boaters have been injured in some cases.
The group is taking the opportunity to remind boaters of the laws regarding vessels near whales.
"If spotted, boaters are reminded that they are required by law to slow down to below 7 knots when within 1,000 metres and give the whale a minimum of 100 metres space," states Ocean Wise.
While humpback activity in the region has increased over the years, they're still a species of special concern at the federal level.
The level is being monitored by a group of organizations and companies, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Prince of Whales and Ocean Ecoventures.