Thank you for your interest in how to be a responsible vessel operator in the presence of marine wildlife.
Our "See a Blow, Go Slow" campaign provides information about how to avoid collisions with marine mammals, and what to do if a collision or entanglement occurs.
If you have witnessed an incident of concern, please call the DFO Incident Reporting Line at 1-800-465-4336.
Whales, dolphins, and porpoises can surface very unpredictably in front of your vessel. Baleen whales such as Humpback Whales can remain submerged for 15 to 20 minutes and often exhibit random travel patterns. Animals may surface without warning and can be difficult to avoid, especially if you are traveling at speed. They can also suddenly become acrobatic and breach without warning. To increase safety for both boaters and marine wildlife, the following key points are provided:
When You Suspect You Are in the Vicinity of Whales:
If, despite this vigilance, you experience or witness a collision or other incident of concern such as entanglement or disturbance, please call the DFO Incident Reporting Line at 1-800-465-4336.
Humpback Whale blows can be 2m high but are difficult to see in windy conditions. The blows of smaller whale species, such as Minke Whales and Killer Whales, can be much more difficult to detect.
If you see this flag, it means that whales are in the area. Reduce speed and proceed with enhanced caution.
Aggregations of birds often means that there is a lot of feed in the area and thereby an enhanced chance of whale presence.
The coloured areas on these maps indicate locations of known whale density off northeastern Vancouver Island, with the dark blue areas highlighting regions where enhanced caution is especially required. Note that the locations of individual marine mammals cannot be predicted with certainty, and therefore the key points to avoid collision should always be followed.
Note that only vessels flying a triangular yellow pennant (like the one to the left) are licensed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to undertake research on marine mammals. This may involve approaching marine mammals within the 200m limit for research purposes. The lettering MML indicates "Marine Mammal License" and the number identifies the individual researcher.
1. BE CAUTIOUS and COURTEOUS: approach areas of known or
suspected marine wildlife activity with extreme caution. Look in all directions before planning your
approach or departure.
Regarding bow and stern-riding porpoises and dolphins:
With increasing numbers of Humpbacks on BC's coast, the risk of whale entanglement has become greater. Preliminary results from research conducted by MERS and DFO suggest that over 47% of Humpbacks in BC have been entangled (>1,000 Humpbacks). This data provides an indication of how serious the risk of entanglement is but does not reveal how many Humpbacks die after becoming entangled.
What to do if you find an entangled whale:
1. recognize that the whale is entangled and;
Trailing gear at the surface provides the opportunity for trained responders to attach a tag to track the whale and/or to attach floatation to maintain contact with and slow down an entangled whale. Loss of this gear can significantly reduce rescuers' ability to save the whale.