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

Fraser Valley fire departments form ‘strike teams’ to combat wildfires

Boston Bar, Chilliwack River Valley and Popkum departments form strike teams to fight wildfires

Sometimes it’s okay to simply try

I feel like a success even though I failed at donating blood

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Air quality advisory continues in the Lower Mainland

Smoke from Interior fires brings fine particulate

RCMP nab prolific car thief in Agassiz after month-long search

A province-wide warrant was issued for Brian Robert Stephan in June for a litany of offences

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

Island swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Victoria MS athlete Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights can be misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Vancouver Whitecaps give up late goal in 2-2 draw with New York Red Bulls

Four of Vancouver’s next five games are at home

B.C. man designer behind Canucks’ retro jersey

Jeremie White was 20 years old when he told Canucks assistant GM Brian Burke he had a design

Most Read