Humpback whale PHI (left) is seen in this September 23, 2017 photo alongside Niagara near Campbell River. Photo: Jackie Hildering, Marine Education and Research Society, Marine Mammal License MML-42

Distressed humpback whale returns to familiar waters

Whale spotted off Washington State coast may no longer be entangled

A humpback whale known to spend time around Campbell River may no longer be entangled.

According to the Marine Education and Research Society (MERS), ‘PHI’ was last spotted July 31 off the coast of Washington State. The yellow rope that was previously photographed in her mouth is no longer visible.

This could be good or bad news, says humpback whale researcher Jackie Hildering.

“Did the rope in her mouth somehow fall out where it had been so firmly embedded previously? Or has it shifted where it just cannot be seen,” wrote Hildering in an email to Black Press.

The good news is that PHI, who was previously seen heading for remote waters north of Vancouver Island, is now in an area where there are more people equipped to help her if she is in fact still entangled.

RELATED: Attempts to disentangle humpback off north Vancouver Island fail

“She is again where there are those who have the skill to recognize who she is and can monitor her,” said Hildering. “That’s so much better than her having continued north to more remote areas.”

According to MERS, PHI’s entanglement was first observed on July 23 in the Campbell River/Quadra Island area.

A specialized team from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans attempted to disentangle the whale over two days, but ran out of daylight nort of Sayward.

RELATED: Humpback whale safety campaign launched as population booms on B.C. coast

PHI was once again spotted on July 25 near Port McNeill, where a response team attempted to attach a grapple and tag onto her, but again ran out of daylight north of Port Hardy.

The entanglement was complicated as no rope or netting was trailing behind the whale, said Hildering, who helped nickname the whale after the markings on her tail, which look like the letters P, H and I.

Response teams are normally able to attach a tracker to the gear trailing from the whale or attach flotation to slow them down.

While entanglements might not put whales at risk right away, over time they could lead to chafing and infection.

“There’s a perception by people that whales are in immediate risk when they’re entangled,” Hildering told Black Press last week. “Most often it’s the long-term impacts of entanglement; the fact that they can’t move properly, they can’t feed properly.”

PHI was already an adult when she was first documented near Victoria in 2014.

It appears she is swimming in familiar waters once again.

Entangled whales should be reported “with great urgency” to the DFO incident line at 1-800-465-4336 or using VHF Channel 16 if outside of cell service, said MERS.

For more information on what to do if you spot an entangled whale, visit howtosaveawhale.org.


@marissatiel
marissa.tiel@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A humpback whale that was previously reported to be entangled has returned to familiar waters and may no longer be at risk. Marine Education and Research Society/Facebook

Just Posted

Ocean Boulevard could open after Labour Day

Colwood council expected to discuss options later this month

Sidney can ‘only educate and encourage’ people to social distance

CAO says municipality lacks legislative authority to enforce social distancing in public

View Royal fire chief calls for realistic solutions to ‘mess’ at Thetis Lake

Emergency crews harassed while extinguishing brush fire, rescuing drunk 15-year-old during long weekend calls

$3,700 worth of bikes stolen in Oak Bay in just three days

Police receive reports of four stolen bikes from July 27 to 29

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Dinosaurs revived for animatronic auction in Langley

More than 500 robot dinosaurs, fossils, and exhibition gear are going on the block Aug. 6

B.C. paramedics responded to a record-breaking 2,700 overdose calls in July

Province pledges $10.5 million for expansion of overdose prevention response

Canada signs deals with Pfizer, Moderna to get doses of COVID-19 vaccines

Earlier in July both Pfizer and Moderna reported positive results from smaller trials

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

Cyclist in hospital after being hit by load of lumber hanging from truck on B.C. highway

A man is in hospital with broken ribs, punctured lung and a broken clavicle and scapula

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Most Read