A whale frolicks in the waters off B.C. (Black Press file)

Thermal imaging cameras eye Salish Sea in hopes of better detecting whales

Cameras installed at BC Ferries’ terminal on Galiano Island, and off southern Gulf Islands

BC Ferries supports a one-year scientific study that aims to provide better detection of whales in the waters off Galiano Island.

ALSO READ: Victoria necropsy on grey whale aims to unlock secrets of its death

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, with the University of Erlangen in Germany and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts will run a year-long pilot project seeing if automated thermal imaging cameras, when used in combination with visual and acoustic detection, can be used to efficiently detect whales.

BC Ferries’ role in the project is to host the thermal imaging cameras at their Galiano Island terminal at Sturdies Bay.

The cameras will be active 24/7 and the study aims to improve detection rates of whales in the Salish Sea, even at night.

ALSO READ: BC Ferries’ marine super talks dodging whales

“As a stakeholder in the Salish Sea, BC Ferries has a responsibility to understand how our activities may affect marine mammals in general and the Southern Resident Killer Whales in particular,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ president and CEO.

“Our deck crews are always on the lookout for marine mammals, and we voluntarily report sightings to the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network to help researchers gather information. We believe it is important to support research projects such as this one, as the marine community in general will benefit from these findings.”

The cameras were set up in June and detect temperature to differentiate between marine mammals, ships and the surrounding water.

Thermal imaging cameras are also in place near the international shipping lane in Boundary Pass, which separates the Southern Gulf Islands from the San Juan Islands in Washington State.

ALSO READ: Eighth dead whale washes up on B.C. coast

If the pilot is successful, the cameras could be used to alert ships, like BC Ferries vessels, to the presence of Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) and humpbacks, allowing captains to make quick decisions in slowing down or avoiding where whales are present.

“Our crews have standing permission to deviate away from whales at the captain’s command when safe to do so. Vessels can also slow down, if deviation is not possible in confined waters,” adds Collins. “We are committed to working with scientists and whale researchers to identify new ways we can operate our ships to protect whales, while still meeting our obligations to the communities we serve.”

For more information on the variety of projects BC Ferries are involved with visit bcferries.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hitched Wedding and Event Affair is a busy affair

This year Hitched is happening at the Comox Community Centre.

Campbell River Storm topple Oceanside Generals 6-3 in home victory

Storm goals scored by six different players

Teal Harle wraps up X Games appearance with personal bests

Finished 12th in ski big air, 11th in ski slopestyle

Decor details: Professional rental and design businesses deliver it all

Stop by the Comox Community Centre today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.!

Burger and a beer for a cause? Yes, please.

John Howard Society hopes Feb. 3 fundraiser at Match will sponsor one child in KidStart

WATCH: Find a perfect venue at Hitched Wedding & Events Affair

Check out vendors, venues and more at the Comox Community Centre today until 4 p.m.

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

Most Read