Cetaceans are very susceptible to serious injury and mortality from vessel strikes
The waters of British Columbia are host to high densities of both cetaceans and marine traffic1. Vessel strikes are a recognized cause of mortality for cetaceans worldwide, and pose a real risk to many species found in B.C. waters2.
Species at Risk
Vessels at Risk
Reducing the Impact
Understanding the distribution of cetaceans helps identify and map high-risk areas for vessel strikes, and a large amount of these valuable data come from sightings reported by coastal residents and mariners. You can help researchers learn more about high density whale areas by reporting your sightings. In 2018, the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network launched the WhaleReport Alert System. This system uses real-time sightings, reported by observers using the WhaleReport app, to alert large commercial vessels of whales in their vicinity. This awareness better enables vessels to undertake adaptive mitigation measures, such as slowing down or altering course in the presence of cetaceans, to reduce the risk of collision and disturbance.
What can you do to help?
Vessel traffic, both commercial and recreational, has increased significantly along the British Columbia Coast. This rise in vessl traffic has caused an increase in physical and acoustic disturbance in cetacean habitat.
Follow the Be Whale Wise Guidelines
Report Marine Mammal Harassment and Violations
Watch Whales from Shore
Tools for Commercial Mariners
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- Fisheries and Oceans Canada (2009) Management Plan for the Pacific Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Management Plan Series. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa. v + 49 pp.
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- Noren, D., Johnson A.H., Rehder D., and Larson A. (2009) Close approaches by vessels elicit surface active behaviors by southern resident killer whales. Endangered Species Research 8:179–192.
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- Thorpe, L., Personal Communication, April 2011 p.c (2011)
- Williams, R., Lusseau, D., Hammond, P. (2006) Estimating relative energetic costs of human disturbance to killer whales (Orcinus orca). Biological Conservation 133(3): 301-311.
- Williams, R., Krkosek, M., Ashe, E. Branch, T.A., Clark, P.S. Hammond, P., Hoyt, E., Noren, D.P., Rosen, D., Winship, A. (2011) Competing conservation objectives for predators and prey: estimating killer whale prey requirements for Chinook salmon PLoS ONE 6: e26738.