Protecting marine mammals this summer
Yippee, it’s summer! How do you enjoy our coast at this time of year? Perhaps you are a boater or paddler? An avid fisherman? Or maybe you’re just someone that loves a walk along the shore? However you enjoy the coast, it’s important to remember that how we act while in these areas can have an impact on marine mammal populations in B.C. Here are some easy tips to help protect marine mammals this summer:
Boaters and Paddlers: In the excitement of spotting marine mammals, it is easy to forget that the presence of humans and their vessels can impact these animals. When we get too close, approach too quickly, or make too much noise, we may disrupt marine mammals and interfere with foraging, resting and socializing. Boats can also directly injure animals through collisions. To reduce your impact- follow the Be Whale Wise guidelines:
-Stay at least 100m from marine mammals.
-Reduce speed to less than 7 knots within 400m of marine mammals.
-Stay out of the path of whales, dolphins and porpoises.
-For a full list of the guidelines, see here.
Fishers: Prevent entanglement and habituation of marine mammals by ensuring your fishing practices are marine mammal-friendly!
-Dispose of any discarded fishing gear properly. Ensure no line or hooks are left that may entangle or be eaten by marine mammals.
-Do not feed seals scraps at fish cleaning stations. Animals that become use to being fed by humans become a danger and a nuisance to people, property and themselves. Help avoid seal habituation by getting rid of unwanted scraps through land-based disposal systems and never in the presence of seals or sea lions.
Beachcombers: Make your next beach walk count by reporting what you see.
-It’s seal pupping season in B.C. and you may encounter a young harbour seal on your next beach walk. Seal pups are often left by their mothers for several hours at a time and a pup may not necessarily need your help. Make sure to keep pets and people back and observe the animal from a distance. If you believe it is in distress, call Marine Mammal Rescue at 604-258-SEAL (7325).
-If you’ve been lucky enough to spot a whale, dolphin or porpoise, make sure you report it! The BC Cetacean Sightings Network gathers information from mariners and coastal citizens on the occurrence and distribution of cetaceans throughout BC to better understand and protect these populations.
To help remind boaters and fishers of these easy tips, our Dock Talk team is visiting marinas around the Lower Mainland this summer. Look for them at a dock near you!