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.

 

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

School strike: SD63 says grade 12 students ‘will not lose their graduation year’

Parents, students concerned about educational impact of CUPE 441 strike

Population growth on West Shore strains wait lists for family services

Funding not keeping pace with demand at Pacific Family Services Association

Cineplex to show free holiday movies to support Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada

Community Day will be on Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m at select theatres

West Shore RCMP arrest man accused in Port Renfrew theft, Duncan fraud

Man charged after $300 in fraudulent charges, two phones and wallet stolen

Monster Truck Chaos comes to Victoria, tickets on sale Friday

Monster Truck Chaos rumbles into Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre Jan. 25 and 26

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Birthday boy: Pettersson nets 2 as Canucks beat Predators

Vancouver ends four-game winless skid with 5-3 victory over Nashville

Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

Marcus John Paquette argued that other people had used his phone, including his ex-wife

Petition for free hospital parking presented to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould

What started as a B.C. campaign became a national issue, organizer said

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

B.C.’s high gasoline prices still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

Most Read