Authorities in the U.S. and Canada are considering new rules that would keep whale-watching boats substantially further away from endangered killer whales on the British Columbia coast.
Federal authorities in the U.S. are thinking of doubling how far whale-watching boats must stay from the whales, also known as orcas, which live in the waters along the continent's west coast.
Whale-watchers in Canada and the U.S. are currently allowed to get within 91 metres of the giant mammals. The proposed rules would bar whale-watching boats from approaching within 180 metres.
At present 30 companies in the U.S. and Canada that run whale-watching tours to allow people to see the endangered mammals. Each year, an estimated 400,000 people, many from Canada, visit the Pacific ocean from Washington to the south of B.C. to see killer whales breach.
Now however, experts seem to have finally been able to convince Canadian and American Government officials that these beautiful endangered mammals deserve peace and quite!! It is well known that killer whales use solar to hunt and navigate and the motors from tour boats was interfering with the ability of the whales to use their sonar.
These new rules concerning watching killer whales also make it illegal to intercept or park in the path of a whale, and will establish an 800-metre-long path on the west side of San Juan Island in which boats will be prohibited from entering from May 1st-Sept 1st of each year.
According to research I have done ,Pacific killer whales were added to Canada's endangered species list in November of the year 2000. (source:http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/1999/04/23/whale990423.html). At that time about 300 whales remained living in totality in this region of Canada.
In January of 2009 it was declared by Canadian Government officials that :
"Canada's killer whale population on the Pacific Coast remained at risk of extinction as its main food source continues to decline." At that time, the resident killer whales living along the U.S. border south of Vancouver Island were considered "endangered" and SADLY the population of these whales has dropped to 48 adult animals is expected to decline further, the panel said. A separate group of resident killer whales found on the northern end of Vancouver Island is doing slightly better, but they are also considered threatened, according the Committee on the the Status of Endangered Wildlife.
The whales. also known as orcas, have suffered because of declining stocks of chinook salmon, their principal prey, as well as pollution and acoustical disturbance in the busy waterways.
To may way of thinking it is about time that the Governments of Canada and the United States did something about the fact that these whales were being disturbed by tour boats. This should of happened a long time ago!! The rights of the whales must come first, before the rights of any human entrepreneurs or whale watchers!
Source of image:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Orca_porpoising.jpg
Photographer: Minette Layne
Why should whale-watching tours be carefully watched to ensure they conform to these new guidelines you say?
Because, research has found that whale-watching may be responsible for damaging changes in the mammals' behaviour and could be putting them off feeding. A study of killer whales by researchers from the University of St Andrews in Scotland and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, has revealed that the approach of boats disturbed the animals to such an extent that they decreased their food intake by up to 18 per cent!!! How would the humans in these boats like to have their food intake decreased by 18 percent??? This study of killer whales also concluded that "all boat traffic within an average of 3 sq mi (5 sq km) disturbed the whales' behaviour."
"This study provides indirect evidence that feeding activity is disrupted by the presence of boats, which could lead to a substantial decrease in energy-gain opportunities. Overall, whales reduced their time spent feeding from 13 per cent to 10 per cent when boats were present. They showed not only a lower probability of continuing feeding, but also a lower probability of initiating a feeding bout."
"The study on killer whales off the coast of British Columbia over seven years revealed that pods were more likely to attempt to distance themselves from the boats when they came into the same area and stop social behaviour."
"Conservation groups believe that the effects of whale-watching boats on killer whales also apply to other whale populations. They fear that dwindling food stocks are forcing whales to spend more time searching for food and, if they are frightened away from a good feeding spot by whale-watching activity, they become weaker and could even starve."
Clearly there are other ways human beings can enjoy killer whales and all sea life,besides being in a boat right next to these species of animals! People can can change their ways of watching whales, whales cannot change their behavior or where their food sources are in the waterways of our World! When I read that some operators of killer whale tours are concerned about how fellow business tour operators are acting in the vicinity of these whales, then apparently some of these operators do not deserve to remain in business !!!(see the www.telegraph.co.uk reference to understand what I am talking about).