A breaching humpback whale was involved in an incident with a whale-watching vessel from Victoria on Monday afternoon near Race Rocks. Two passengers were injured when the whale surfaced in front of the boat. PIXabay images

A breaching humpback whale was involved in an incident with a whale-watching vessel from Victoria on Monday afternoon near Race Rocks. Two passengers were injured when the whale surfaced in front of the boat. PIXabay images

Video: Tour boat strikes humpback whale near Victoria

Two people were taken to hospital after a collision involving a Prince of Whales zodiac near Race Rocks Ecological Reserve.

Two people were taken to hospital after a humpback whale collided with a boat off the coast of Victoria on Monday afternoon.

According to Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokesperson Lara Sloan, 11 passengers were aboard a Prince of Whales Whale Watching zodiac boat near Race Rocks Ecological Reserve, west of Victoria, when a whale surfaced, sending the vessel sideways.

The animal had not been sighted before the accident and is not believed to be injured. It reportedly surfaced three times after the collision before diving out of sight.

The boat was travelling at between 24 to 27 knots (44 to 50 kilometres per hour) at the time and was escorted back to Victoria afterward by a Coast Guard rescue boat.

Paramedics met the whale watching boat at the dock and transported the injured passengers to hospital for observation.

One of the two was later released, while the other was said to be stable and recovering in hospital as of Tuesday evening.

Ben Duthie, sales and operations manager for the company, said the collision was unforeseeable.

“This is a freak accident that could have happened to anyone transiting the waters in the Salish Sea,” he said. “This is the first time it has happened in 22 years.”

While standard practice for the industry is to keep a distance of at least 100 metres, Duthie said the whale was not seen prior to the incident.

“The animals that had been previously seen in the day, we were watching them from a respectable distance,” he said, adding his company deeply respects the animals they watch.

“We are stewards of the environment; we are an educational platform, taking people out into the wild and teaching them about these animals.”

Sloan said the risk of collisions with whales is greater as their population has increased by about four per cent per year.

“DFO takes the report of a commercial whale watching vessel hitting a whale seriously,” she said in an email. “It is too soon to comment on the cause of this incident; further investigation will need to take place to determine the factors involved.”

Local whale watching associations will be on the lookout for any injured whales over the coming weeks, and both Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board will also be investigating.

“At this point we are completely complying,” Duthie said. The hope in sharing the story, he added, is that other boaters will make any necessary adjustments to ensure they are operating safely in areas that humpback whales can be found.

As for any changes Prince of Whales may make to the their operations, he said it’s too early to tell.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

humpback whalewhale watching

Just Posted

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Arrests begin at Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island

Five protesters arrested as RCMP begin to enforce injunction

Saanich police are asking for the public’s help locating missing woman Christina Olsen, 41, who was last seen on May 15 in the 4500-block of Blenkinsop Road. (Photo via the Saanich Police Department)
MISSING: Police seek woman last seen at Saanich mental health facility

Christina Olsen, 41, left Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility on May 15

Plans to restore the ecology of Sidney Island include the eradication of fallow deer first introduced in the early 1900s. (Parks Canada/Submitted)
Parks Canada proposal calls for eradication of fallow deer on Sidney Island

Proposed eradication part of a larger plan to restore local ecology but obstacles remain ahead

A dramatic four-vehicle crash at the intersection of Government and Herald streets brings standstill in downtown Victoria on May 18. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
UPDATE: Downtown Victoria intersection reopens after 4 car crash injures passengers, slowed traffic

Traffic impacted after crash closes Government and Herald streets

Ryan Cootes, Erin Bremner-Mitchell, Bill Collins and Mike Williamson of Cascadia Seaweed Corporation are here seen holding up seaweed grown in Barkley Sound in July 2020. The Sidney-based company has organized the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival running May 17 to May 23. (Cascadia Seaweed Corporation/Submitted)
Let’s hear it for seaweed: slimy, unsexy and the world’s greatest untapped food source

Experts talks emerging industry’s challenges and potential at Sidney inaugural Seawood Days Festival

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A thunderstorm pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fire

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Names of those aboard the ship are seen at Komagata Maru monument in downtown Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The City of Vancouver has issued an apology for its racist role in denying entry to 376 passengers aboard a ship that was forced to return to India over a century ago. Mayor Kennedy Stewart says discrimination by the city had “cruel effects” on the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims aboard the Komagata Maru, which arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Kennedy Stewart has declared May 23 as the annual Komagata Maru Day of Remembrance

A crew of WestCoast WILD Adventures employees tackled an onslaught of litter left at the ‘Locks of Love’ fence at Wally Creek on May 2. (Anne-Marie Gosselin photo)
Litter woes consume popular ‘Locks of Love’ fence on B.C.’s Pacific Rim

Popular view spot near Tofino plagued by people hanging masks and other unwanted garbage

A game camera near the Klahoose reservation on Cortes Island caught this glimpse of a truck leaving the woodlot at around 2:30 on Sunday morning. Photo supplied by Klahoose First Nation
Indigenous cutblock vandalised on Cortes Island, anti-logging element suspected

Ribbons pulled down, gravel poured into gas tank at Klahoose First Nation site

Announced Tuesday, May 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory. (AP/Steven Senne)
Masks now required at all times inside B.C. gyms, including during workouts

Those who disobey could be subject to a $230 fine

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Most Read