Video: British Columbia Humpbacks May Soon Lose Ocean Quiet

Candice Gaukel Andrews August 4, 2016 2
Off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, humpbacks are making a comeback. A proposed supertanker highway, however, could change that. ©From the video “Whale Haven” by Pacific Wild

Off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, humpbacks are making a comeback. A proposed supertanker highway, however, could change that. ©From the video “Whale Haven” by Pacific Wild

In some of the last quiet, pristine waters on the British Columbia Coast, humpback whales are making a comeback. In the mid 1960s, when Canada stopped whaling on its West Coast, there were only about 1,500 of them left in the North Pacific. Ten years ago, a study estimated that their numbers had multiplied to about 22,000.

Today, however, these whales are facing another huge menace: a proposed supertanker highway through one of their few remaining peaceful havens. A massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) project that’s being planned for the northern part of the province and possible bitumen oil pipelines from the Alberta tar sands to the B.C. Coast would route a potential 2,000 to 3,000 tankers through the Great Bear Sea per year, putting whales in daily risk of ship strikes.

A quiet ocean is essential for humpbacks; they largely use sound instead of sight to navigate, avoid predators, forage for food and find mates. ©From the video “Whale Haven” by Pacific Wild

A quiet ocean is essential for humpbacks; they largely use sound instead of sight to navigate, avoid predators, forage for food and find mates. ©From the video “Whale Haven” by Pacific Wild

That’s not the only danger the tankers would pose. If the pipelines are approved, each ship would carry over two million barrels of oil—the equivalent of 127, Olympic-size swimming pools. These colossal quantities of oil traveling along one of the world’s most dangerous shipping routes means that there’s a high risk of spillage. Smaller leaks and spills and the introduction of invasive, exotic species are additional threats these huge boats would bring to the waters of the Great Bear Sea. And, supertankers are the loudest marine vessels on Earth. Here, where current low noise levels allow the whales to communicate and forage successfully, the thunder of these carriers could displace the whales again.

Watch the video titled Whale Haven, with music by Philip Glass, below. It was produced by Pacific Wild, a nonprofit that works to defend wildlife and wildlife habitat in the lands and waters of the Great Bear Rain Forest on Canada’s Pacific Coast. It will make you hope that—now and into the future—the only recorded underwater noise you’ll be able to hear will be that of whale songs.

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,

Candy

 

2 Comments »

  1. joanna cardew August 4, 2016 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Such a beautiful film and the wonderful sounds made by the movements of these majestic whales as they move trough the water .
    Philip Glass is a good composer but this is not the right place for his music . It is deafening and thus impossible to enjoy the peacefulness of the surroundings and the sounds of nature . In this context music however good is pure pain and torture

  2. Charlotte Sahnow August 4, 2016 at 10:19 am - Reply

    STOP THE OVERLOADED, ACCIDENT-PRONE, MILE-LONG OIL TRAINS OVER CANADIAN TERRITORY!
    YOU CAN DO IT, WE HAVE STOPPED LNG PORTS HERE IN OREGON ON OUR COASTLINE.
    WE ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON STOPPING THESE OIL TRAINS THROUGH OUR STATE!!

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