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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

Saanich swimmer Lauren Crisp in running for rookie-of-the-year

Saanich swimmer Lauren Crisp, Oak Bay’s Diego Maffia in running for rookie-of-the-year

Victoria company compares drone footage of city streets between August and now

Fewer cars, people seen on streets and at landmarks

Fairfield gas station fire deemed arson

Police looking for witnesses, video of 2:30 a.m. April 5 fire

Outreach initiative connects Sooke seniors to support amid COVID-19

Volunteers encouraged to sign up as need increases

As 240K apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Vancouver Island teen singer advances to American Idol top 20

Lauren Spencer-Smith performs Respect at outdoor concert in Hawaii

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open this week

Bars, cannabis sector eligible for $40B credit program from government bank

Applicants must go through their own banks to access the program

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Most Read