When on the water, watch out for whales

Di Izdebski, Bob Turner


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With warmer weather on the way, Bowen Islanders are beginning to once again venture out in enjoyment of the beautiful waters of Howe Sound. But when taking to the sea it is important to remember that this place is shared by wildlife that depends on a safe, healthy ocean for survival.

Some of our aquatic neighbours include large marine mammals such as orca, humpback, sea lion and porpoise; as well as smaller mammals, fishes and sea birds and all are at risk of disturbance or collision from marine traffic. 

When boating there are several things you can do to be aware and respectful of the marine life in Howe Sound and ensure safety for both boaters and wildlife: 

  • Always be on the lookout for blows and other indicators of whale or marine mammal presence such as aggregations of birds or boats.
  • Use extra caution in areas with higher whale activity such as Dorman Point and Collingwood Channel.
  • “If you see a blow -- go slow!”
  • Watch for vessels flying the whale watch flag this signals that whales are near.

Minimum approach distances for vessels:

  • 400 m for all orca/killer whales in southern BC waters as of June 1, 2020.
  • 200 m for other whale, dolphin and porpoise species with calves or in resting position.
  • 100 m for all other whales, dolphins and porpoises.

If you have witnessed an incident of concern, including contact with a marine mammal and a vehicle or fishing gear, please call the DFO Incident Reporting Line at 1-800-465-4336. 

Visit mersociety.org/seeablowgoslow for current regulations and more information. 

Are you interested in learning more about marine life around Bowen Island?

Join the Bowen Island Conservancy for an online celebration and launch of our new book Exploring Bowen’s Marine World: A Marine Atlas of Nexwlelexwem/Bowen Island on Sunday May 24, 7 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Email Susan Munro at susanmunro@shaw.ca to join.

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