Coronavirus: Less boat traffic is good news for Canada’s marine life

A pod of orcas spotted in Vancouver's False Creek on June 12, 2019. Jeff Wilson

The reduction of boat traffic on the B.C. coast could be good news for marine life.

“I think it’s still too early to tell,” said Valeria Vergara, a marine mammal research scientist with the Ocean Wise Conservation Association. “But certainly it has to be good news for marine life locally.”

Noise pollution from vessels is one of the single greatest risks to marine animals who rely on sound for communication.

Whale-watching companies have ceased operations under the COVID-19 pandemic, she added, while BC Ferries has cut service in half.

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“This has to have significant effects on whale habitats.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: BC Ferries to slash service levels by half, lay off up to 1,400 workers

The federal government has ordered all commercial marine vessels with the capacity of 12 or more passengers to stop non-essential activities, such as tourism or recreation, as of April 6.

“If these measures remain in place, for example, in June out in the St. Lawrence (River) when belugas begin arriving to their summer habitat,” Vergara said, “it will probably be the quietest arrival they’ve had in decades.”

READ MORE: Commercial vessels, ferries to reduce passenger numbers to avoid coronavirus spread

The belugas in the St. Lawrence River are an endangered population.

Vergara was speaking on CKNW’s Mornings with Simi.

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