Orca seen taking hold of sailboat in Comox could be stressed, expert says
It’s supposed to be a transient travelling the waters off of North America, but instead an orca seen off the coast of Vancouver Island seems to have turned into a resident.
Cellphone video captured on Sunday shows an orca pushing a moored sailboat around the Comox Harbour and then into another vessel.
Marine mammal researcher, Josh McInnes, says although it may look like the whale is simply having fun, that’s not necessarily the case.
“Seeing interaction between a whale and a vessel like that, it’s definitely [cause] for some concern,” said McInnes. “I personally see a bit of stress coming from that animal.”
The transient, which is normally in Alaska, has been in the Comox Harbour all week. It’s a rare occurrence for the area, but perhaps not for the whale.
“This whale apparently does have a pattern of this, stopping in harbours for a time so there’s not a lot of concern so far, but we’re closely monitoring the health of the whale,” said Michael Davies with the Canadian Coast Guard.
Officials are not concerned about the whale’s health, but more for its safety.
The Coast Guard Patrol Vessel ‘M Charles’ arrived at the harbour on Sunday to check on the whale and to keep people back.
“We’ve received several complaints from the public about people approaching too closely to the killer whale in the harbour here,” said the vessel’s field supervisor Les Sanderson.
Authorities are reminding the public the regulation is to keep 200 metres away from orcas, especially the one that is sticking to the one location.
“These are very large animals and they can launch themselves completely out of the water, they can land anywhere, so [if] you get too close you can really put yourself in danger,” said Davies.
The owner of the vessel that was pushed by the whale is thankful that the damage was limited mainly to the boat’s guardrails.
With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Gord Kurbis