Several members of the A42 killer whale pod breach the surface of the harbour in Prince Rupert. (Caitlin Birdsall photo)

Kicking off whale season with a new festival

The first North Coast Whale Festival is on April 14 in Prince Rupert

April showers bring… killer whales?

For the last seven years or so, a pod of orcas known as the A42s have returned to Prince Rupert’s harbour at the same time in April. This year, the first North Coast Whale Festival will welcome the whales back with a day of land-based activities.

The hope is to raise awareness about the marine animals through fun and educational activities that teach their biology, threats — both natural and man-made — and their cultural importance to First Nations bands.

WATCH and READ MORE: New whale rescue equipment comes to Rupert

Starting at 10 a.m., the festival will kick off at the North Coast Convention Centre with a traditional dance and story, followed by a marine speaker series from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

First, Lance Barrett-Lennard, the director of marine mammal research at the Coastal Ocean Research Institute will talk about killer whale biology. Then, Dr. Teresa (Sm’hayetsk) Ryan from the University of British Columbia will discuss the cultural importance of orcas. At 1:30 p.m., the final speaker is Kathy Heise, who will talk about the threats orcas face.

Throughout the festival, people can see whale bones, learn how to rescue a whale — Prince Rupert is home to specialized equipment available in only four locations in B.C. — and find out more about what services on the North Coast do to protect the area’s marine wildlife.

The festivities continue into the evening with plates of OceanWise sustainable seafood. Tickets are $15 and available at Wheelhouse or Fukasaku.

The whales of the A42 pod can also be adopted. Donations from adoption packages will go to wild killer whale research done by the Marine Mammal Research Program.

As the human residents of Rupert watch the whales visit their seasonal home, NCECS wants everyone to remember why they love living by the ocean and learn what they can do to help protect it.

READ MORE: North Coast Ecology Centre Society looks for volunteers

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