Robyn Smiley of Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings sent in these pics of the orca seen in the Royston area Thursday afternoon.

Lone orca lingering near Vancouver Island marina has DFO concerned

Experts say duration of stay is unusual

  • Jul. 28, 2018 9:30 a.m.

Jolene Rudisuela

Black Press

The orca spotted swimming alone near the Comox Marina on Vancouver Island since Monday afternoon has been exhibiting unusual behaviour, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

DFO killer whale researcher, Jared Towers, says transient killer whales can travel over 100 miles a day, so it is particularly strange that this orca continues to swim back and forth inside the marina.

READ MORE: Orca spotted Tuesday morning near the Comox marina

“They usually stay in one area until they’re finished feeding,” said Towers. “Sometimes that can be five minutes and sometimes that can be several hours and otherwise, they’re typically moving – on the go in one direction or another.”

He added that the Comox harbour has a lot of sand and sometimes that can make it harder for killer whales to navigate.

“He might just not be able to find his way out so far,” said Towers. “He certainly should be able to if he got himself in there, but we’ll see if he finds his way out.”

Though he said the orca has not shown any obvious signs of trauma or poor health, the DFO will continue to monitor it.

Prior to arriving in the harbour, the 27-year-old orca, known at T073B, was monitored swimming by the Gulf Islands with a group of killer whales. On Sunday, July 22, he split off from the group and arrived in the Comox marina around 4 p.m. the following day.

Ken Balcomb, founder and senior scientist with the Centre for Whale Research, said this type of orca used to be infrequent in the area but that has since changed.

“Since the seal population has done so well, they’re in the Georgia Straight, Comox area almost every day,” he said. “They’ll be in small groups and sometimes individual.”

Peter Hamilton with Lifeforce Ocean Friends snapped some photos of the orca earlier in the week, from his boat, but said he was dismayed to see other boaters disrespecting and harassing the orca by getting too close. Hamilton said he has filed an official complaint to the DFO.

“This orca is being constantly harassed by boaters. The orca can be safely watched from the boardwalk. We must reduce boat traffic that could result in severe injuries. All boaters, including sailboats and kayakers, must stay 200 metres from Orcas.”

The recently updated Marine Mammal Regulations guidelines can be viewed at www.SeeABlowGoSlow.org

 

Robyn Smiley of Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings sent in these pics of the orca seen in the Royston area Thursday afternoon.

Just Posted

Paramedics union raises alarm over spike in out-of-service ambulances

Staffing shortages affecting service levels in Kootenays

Business Profile: Miller brings nearly 30 years of experience to Golden Home Building Centre

Are you thinking of starting a project around the house, fixing something… Continue reading

Bacchus Books hosts Gerritt Shumyk March 25

A cozy venue, nestled in the heart of downtown Golden, hosts musicians… Continue reading

Isaac Tetrault brings home karate trophy, Golden competitors win medals

Submitted Golden Shotokan Karate travelled to Port Moody on March 9 for… Continue reading

The good, bad and the unknown of Apple’s new services

The announcements lacked some key details, such as pricing of the TV service

BREAKING: BC Ferry crashes into Langdale terminal

The Queen of Surrey is stuck on the dock, causing delays to Horseshoe Bay

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Vancouver Island home to B.C.’s luckiest lotto store

Five million-dollar winners have bought tickets from same Port Alberni corner store

Video of ‘shocking, chilling execution’ opens B.C. murder hearing

Sentencing underway for Brandon Woody after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in Nanaimo

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

SPCA seizes 54 animals from Vernon property

Animals weren’t receiving adequate care

Morneau unveils principles for Indigenous ownership in Trans Mountain pipeline

The controversial pipeline was bought by Ottawa last year

Refugee who sheltered Edward Snowden in Hong Kong arrives in Canada

Vanessa Rodel and her seven-year-old daughter Keana arrived in Toronto this week

Most Read