A whale frolicks in the waters off B.C. (Black Press file)

Thermal imaging cameras eye Salish Sea in hopes of better detecting whales

Cameras installed at BC Ferries’ terminal on Galiano Island, and off southern Gulf Islands

BC Ferries supports a one-year scientific study that aims to provide better detection of whales in the waters off Galiano Island.

ALSO READ: Victoria necropsy on grey whale aims to unlock secrets of its death

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, with the University of Erlangen in Germany and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts will run a year-long pilot project seeing if automated thermal imaging cameras, when used in combination with visual and acoustic detection, can be used to efficiently detect whales.

BC Ferries’ role in the project is to host the thermal imaging cameras at their Galiano Island terminal at Sturdies Bay.

The cameras will be active 24/7 and the study aims to improve detection rates of whales in the Salish Sea, even at night.

ALSO READ: BC Ferries’ marine super talks dodging whales

“As a stakeholder in the Salish Sea, BC Ferries has a responsibility to understand how our activities may affect marine mammals in general and the Southern Resident Killer Whales in particular,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ president and CEO.

“Our deck crews are always on the lookout for marine mammals, and we voluntarily report sightings to the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network to help researchers gather information. We believe it is important to support research projects such as this one, as the marine community in general will benefit from these findings.”

The cameras were set up in June and detect temperature to differentiate between marine mammals, ships and the surrounding water.

Thermal imaging cameras are also in place near the international shipping lane in Boundary Pass, which separates the Southern Gulf Islands from the San Juan Islands in Washington State.

ALSO READ: Eighth dead whale washes up on B.C. coast

If the pilot is successful, the cameras could be used to alert ships, like BC Ferries vessels, to the presence of Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) and humpbacks, allowing captains to make quick decisions in slowing down or avoiding where whales are present.

“Our crews have standing permission to deviate away from whales at the captain’s command when safe to do so. Vessels can also slow down, if deviation is not possible in confined waters,” adds Collins. “We are committed to working with scientists and whale researchers to identify new ways we can operate our ships to protect whales, while still meeting our obligations to the communities we serve.”

For more information on the variety of projects BC Ferries are involved with visit bcferries.com.

Just Posted

Harrison Festival to host viewing of local ‘Still Standing’ episode

Comedian Jonny Harris came to Harrison Hot Springs in January to film part of his TV series

Blowback from the Trudeau in brownface debacle reaches Chilliwack

PM in questionable photos released in the middle of the federal election campaign had ripple effects

‘I just can’t believe it’: Agassiz swimmer brings home six medals from seniors games

Patti Komar won three gold and three silver medals in her first competition in 48 years

Local Liberal MP Jati Sidhu says he forgives Trudeau for brownface photos

Sidhu says Trudeau ‘didn’t know any better’ and that photos will prompt discussion

Prospera and Westminster credit unions approved for proposed merger

Abbotsford- and Surrey-based companies now take matter to membership vote

VIDEO: Agassiz Fall Fair celebrates 115 years of fair fun

From 4H shows to pie eating contests, the annual fair brought its best to the community this year

One-in-five British Columbians think they’ll win big while gambling: study

Roughly 58 per cent of British Columbians bought at least one lottery ticket in past year

Takaya, B.C.’s infamous lone wolf, seen eating seal and howling away on Discovery Island

Fun facts about Takaya the wolf, like his a 36-hour tour around Chatham, Discovery Islands

Surrey school district OKs students skipping class for global climate strike

Students must be excused from school by parents; will be able to make up missed work without penalty

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

Oak Bay father’s testimony at murder trial like plot of ‘bad low-budget movie:’ Crown

Crown alleged Andrew Berry’s ‘entire story of Christmas Day is a lie’

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Most Read