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.

Southern Resident Killer Whales

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

Just Posted

Artist Mike Dangeli gives his son, Hayetsk, a shoulder ride on Oct. 4. (Mike Dangeli/Instagram)
Skeena Voices | ‘The culture and the art saved my life’

Terrace-based artist shares stories of the journey that brought him here

The City of Terrace now requires masks at all indoor City facilities. (File Photo)
Masks to be required in all indoor City of Terrace facilities

Requirement comes as B.C. sees increase in COVID-19 cases

Northern Health saw 14 cases in one day earlier this week, the highest in one day since the beginning of the pandemic. (Image courtesy CDC)
Northern Health sees highest number of new COVID-19 cases in one day

Oct. 27 saw the highest number of new cases in the Health Authority since the start of the pandemic

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Most Read