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.

 

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

Potty Mouth artist creating Funky Fungus

Parksville-Qualicum’s Carmen Lutz has people chuckling with her hand-made, rustic mugs

Qualicum Beach charity hosts fundraiser for Guatemalan students

Aldea Maya has been working in the Central American country since 2012

Parksville Lawn Bowling Club on a roll for artificial turf

Project to cost over $500,000 but will save club money

More Parksville pop-up water parks planned

Fire department says Sunday, Aug. 18 next one on the agenda

Hi Neighbour Day celebrates 50th year in Errington

Pancake breakfast, parade, zucchini race and more planned for this years’ festivities

70 years of lifting: Canadian man, 85, could cinch weightlifting championship

The senior gym junkie is on track to win the World Masters Weightlifting championship

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

Most Read