Robyn Smiley of Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings sent in these pics of the orca seen in the Royston area Thursday afternoon.

Lone orca lingering near Vancouver Island marina has DFO concerned

Experts say duration of stay is unusual

  • Jul. 28, 2018 8:30 a.m.

Jolene Rudisuela

Black Press

The orca spotted swimming alone near the Comox Marina on Vancouver Island since Monday afternoon has been exhibiting unusual behaviour, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

DFO killer whale researcher, Jared Towers, says transient killer whales can travel over 100 miles a day, so it is particularly strange that this orca continues to swim back and forth inside the marina.

READ MORE: Orca spotted Tuesday morning near the Comox marina

“They usually stay in one area until they’re finished feeding,” said Towers. “Sometimes that can be five minutes and sometimes that can be several hours and otherwise, they’re typically moving – on the go in one direction or another.”

He added that the Comox harbour has a lot of sand and sometimes that can make it harder for killer whales to navigate.

“He might just not be able to find his way out so far,” said Towers. “He certainly should be able to if he got himself in there, but we’ll see if he finds his way out.”

Though he said the orca has not shown any obvious signs of trauma or poor health, the DFO will continue to monitor it.

Prior to arriving in the harbour, the 27-year-old orca, known at T073B, was monitored swimming by the Gulf Islands with a group of killer whales. On Sunday, July 22, he split off from the group and arrived in the Comox marina around 4 p.m. the following day.

Ken Balcomb, founder and senior scientist with the Centre for Whale Research, said this type of orca used to be infrequent in the area but that has since changed.

“Since the seal population has done so well, they’re in the Georgia Straight, Comox area almost every day,” he said. “They’ll be in small groups and sometimes individual.”

Peter Hamilton with Lifeforce Ocean Friends snapped some photos of the orca earlier in the week, from his boat, but said he was dismayed to see other boaters disrespecting and harassing the orca by getting too close. Hamilton said he has filed an official complaint to the DFO.

“This orca is being constantly harassed by boaters. The orca can be safely watched from the boardwalk. We must reduce boat traffic that could result in severe injuries. All boaters, including sailboats and kayakers, must stay 200 metres from Orcas.”

The recently updated Marine Mammal Regulations guidelines can be viewed at www.SeeABlowGoSlow.org

 

Robyn Smiley of Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings sent in these pics of the orca seen in the Royston area Thursday afternoon.

Just Posted

The Postmen collect 45 boxes of supplies for wildfire relief

Prince Rupert donations of food, water and toilet paper to be delivered to Burns Lake first

Coastal police unit operating with half its members

RCMP report to Port Edward council reveals low numbers on the coastal force

In Our Opinion: How to lose an ammonia tank— ask the city

How did a 68kg cylinder of ammonia remain unseen after multiple audits and assessments

Donation drop off tonight for B.C. wildfire victims

The Postmen have set up a three-day depot at the Moose Hall in Prince Rupert for disaster relief

Rice on emergency preparedness in wildfire season

Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness talks about B.C.’s state of emergency

This Week Podcast – Episode 98

From the Prince Rupert Golf Club, catch up on sports, entertainment and news highlights

The Northern View 2018 Readers Choice

Vote online or at the Prince Rupert office before noon on Sept. 7

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

B.C. golfer, just 23, scores the rare albatross

Six-million-to-one shot a first for the Terrace club

Fredericton widow swears at Trudeau during condolence call

Widow of man killed in Fredericton shooting says she swore at Trudeau during condolence call.

Tim Hortons promises leaky lids on coffee cups to be phased out

Tim Hortons looks to rebuild its brand with better lid, new marketing campaign

‘There’s been a lot of devastation:’ man whose family lost homes in B.C. fire

The provincial government declared a state of emergency Wednesday as more than 550 wildfires burn in every corner of B.C.

Capsized tug now out of the water at the mouth of B.C.’s Fraser River

The 19-metre-long George H. Ledcor capsized late Monday.

Most Read