Skip to main content

Fisheries department investigating complaints that orcas harassed by boater off Vancouver Island


Fisheries and Oceans Canada is investigating complaints from the public after a boater was seen driving toward a pod of orcas in Baynes Sound, off the coast of Vancouver Island.

“This young fellow in a tin boat decided to come right over, right between them with the motor running and they were slapping their tails and trying to get him to go away but he just kept persisting,” says TJ Campbell.

The mid-island photographer was on the beach taking pictures of the pod when he says he and others saw it happen around 5:30 p.m. Monday night.

Campbell claims the lone boater also had a fishing rod out and was taking pictures.

"They would go away with the baby and he would turn around and go back into the middle of them," Campbell said.

The DFO isn’t commenting on the incident at this time but says a fishery officer from the whale protection unit is looking into it.

“The department would like to thank the members of the public who alerted us to this event and encourages everyone to report possible occurrences of whales being harassed or disturbed, and instances of collision with whales or whale entanglements," the DFO said in a statement.

In B.C. waters, boaters need to stay at least 400 metres, or four football fields, away from killer whales unless they're with a commercial whale-watching company with special government authorization.

“If a whale does approach your vessel, it’s really important to shut down your engines, don’t move, and also in B.C. waters, it’s asked we voluntarily stop fishing if a killer whale is within 1,000 metres of your vessel,” said Erin Gless, executive director of the Pacific Whale Watch Association.

Gless has only seen pictures of the alleged Baynes Sound incident, and says it’s a reminder of the importance of knowing the rules.

"I know that people get excited and often it’s our instinct to get as close as possible," she said. "But we want to make sure that these whales continue visiting this area for many generations to come."

Campbell says he’s taken video and provided it to the DFO to assist its investigation.

"People got to know you can’t do that kind of stuff," he said. Top Stories

Stay Connected