Killer whale saved by Coast Guard off Columbia Beach near Parksville

“You could feel the line rubbing on itself and the whale when pulling. We went astern to help with recovery and the whale cooperated”

Members from the French Creek Coast Guard Station rescued a killer whale caught in a crab trap off Columbia Beach last week.

“Around 4:20 (p.m.) we were advised by various concerned citizens, a pod of whales off Columbia beach was acting erratically circling a yellow crab trap float,” officer in charge, Gord Gibb said.

Within minutes they were in a zodiac headed to the scene where they slowly approached the pod of six whales, including two small ones.

“The small yellow crab float disappeared out of sight, numerous times,” he said, so they stopped nearby.

“The whales closely encircled our boat slapping their tales. You could tell they were distressed. Lots of large pockets of bubbles were coming up at times.”

“We were stopped up when the yellow float again resurfaced 10 feet away,” Gibb said. “Clearly it was snagged on one of the whales so we maneuvered over and quickly made the decision to try to recover as much line as possible.”

“You could feel the line rubbing on itself and the whale when pulling. We went astern to help with recovery and the whale cooperated.”

At 4:40 Gibb reports, “The full grown whale was directly under us and you could clearly see the white underside, it rolled and the crab trap came free about five feet below us.”

“The whales regrouped and headed south. The complete trap and line was recovered and the whale appeared unharmed.”

He said this was a good reminder to boaters that whales have enough hazards to deal with and by law they must stay at least 100 metres away, about the length of a football field.

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