Catching a glimpse of a humpback whale can be the experience of a lifetime, but for a Campbell River man a recent encounter will be memorable for different reasons.
Raymond Boyd was on his way home from Cray Croft Island when the whale breached near Kelsey Bay.
With no way to avoid it, his boat collided with the whale. The collision cracked the hull of his boat and sent Boyd flying through the windshield, unable to make to shore on his own.
Now, after undergoing extensive facial reconstructive surgery, he’s recovering at a hospital. But his story is prompting a warning.
“The absolutely value of learning about this case is – know that there are humpbacks in the waters of British Columbia. They are very unpredictable, and very unaware of boats,” says Jackie Hilderling with Marine Education and Research Society.
Adult humpbacks are roughly 13 to 15 meters long and can weigh up to 40 tonnes.
As the population starts to make a comeback in this area, encounters are becoming more common and it’s not only humans who are at risk.
“We know of cases of people coming back with pieces of humpbacks on the fronts of their boats,” says Hilderling. “We know of fatalities to humpbacks. We see the scars on the humpbacks, so this is happening with incredible regularity.”
While it can’t always be avoided, reporting any incident goes a long way in ensuring a whale’s safety.
“By having a public report of any injured or distressed animals, it helps us keep track of where there may be issues or problems,” says Paul Cottrell with Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
As for the whale involved in this latest encounter, it has yet to be located with any success.