BC Ferries and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority have launched a tutorial for mariners to build awareness of whale species and how to identify them. The tutorial also provides navigational strategies to reduce contact between ships and whales in B.C. waters. Due to the growing increase in population density and trade, marine waters are expected to get more congested in the future.
BC Ferries and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority-led Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) program, together with Ocean Wise, have developed the tutorial - Whales in our Waters.
The tutorial is open to the general public but has largely been aimed at mariners operating large vessels such as ferries, cargo ships or tugboats. Many whale species return to the Salish Sea to feed in the summer, so ECHO encourages people to view the tutorial in advance of those warmer months.
The Whales in our Waters tutorial covers a range of topics, including the need to protect local whale species, tips for identifying them and the best ways to navigate in their presence.
BC Ferries and Washington State Ferries use the tutorial in their crew training programs and have been pleased with the results.
“As professional mariners, we have the privilege of observing marine wildlife every day, and with that privilege comes a responsibility,” said Captain Jan Brockhausen, BC Ferries’ Marine Superintendent.
“Our presence in the great oceans need not impact any species’ ability to survive.”
Carrie Brown, director of environmental programs of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority agrees.
“It’s just one more way we’re working to balance ship activity with the protection and recovery of at-risk whales in our region, through our ECHO Program.”
The Whales in our Waters tutorial and other links to guides about whales, dolphins and porpoises can be found at portvancouver.com/echo
Additional contributors to the tutorial include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Seaspan Marine, Seaspan Ferries, Marine Education and Research Society (MERS), Canadian Coast Guard and the Prince Rupert Port Authority.