Monday, May 12, 2014

Environmental Colors - Tankers vs. Whales

The protection of the North Pacific Humpback Whale has been downgraded. This was a government decision which seems to relate to Northern Gateway's oil distribution project.

These whales have recovered, so we are told, enough that we can risk them and our British Columbia coastal waters, for loading and transporting oil from Alberta onto tankers bound for foreign ports. How can they fix an oil spill in a space so vast? Look at the Valdez oil spill. . . or the Gulf of Mexico. . .



Humpback Whale, property of Nat'l Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin, US,  WC-PD*


A 'concern' means it will be watched due to possible hazards, such as collisions with shipping traffic, but the species is not considered enough of a 'concern' to protect its habitat. By changing the rating for the whale to a lesser degree, the requirement to protect that species' environment is no longer in effect. Loopholes.

Humpback whales like to breach and slap the water with their tale. These immense creatures can be seen in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South America, and the United States. The whales measure 39 to 52 feet (12-16 meters). A moratorium in 1966 (Wiki) was introduced as their population had fallen by 90%. So, now that whale numbers are looking better, we invite more shipping traffic. Does that make sense?

The Vancouver Sun newspaper article contains more information and the details of the federal 'review' panel. One example in the newspaper cited that Burnaby Mountain oil pipeline traffic would increase from 8 to 28 tankers or ships per month if approved.

What does that mean for marine parks on the Inlet? That much extra shipping traffic will affect any wildlife along the way. . .these parks line the Inlet. Herons and seals are seen in this inlet. The herons are fishing. What will happen to their food supply in such a small waterway?

***

How Safe is the BC Coast? What do the experts say?

The oil companies say IF, and the environmentalists say WHEN a spill or leak happens. How confident are you that any oil company can FIX it?


This decision to downgrade the watch on a species that has previously been threatened, was made over the objections of concerned groups, environmentalists and scientists.


In the photo below, you see a few seals in our harbor, inquisitively looking up, another species which will be threatened by any negative change to our coastal waters. This photo was taken as we passed by on a ferry. If shipping traffic increases, will we still see sights like this?


Vancouver Harbour Seals, by DG Hudson


***

Have you ever been whale watching? Have you cruised the coastal waters on either coast to see sea lions, seals or other wildlife?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, and thanks for stopping by. I'll respond.PS -  I saw my first whale in Victoria, BC. I've been Zodiak whale-watching with Tofino BC guides, on a choppy day. . .

***

References:

This post inspired by an article in the newspaper. Bravo, Peter O'Neil.

Ottawa downgrades whale protection

Tanker traffic from pipeline project poses major threat to North Pacific humpback whale, critics say

Reference: Peter O'Neil, author
Front page article Tues Apr 22/14; Breaking News, Vancouver Sun

***

Image of the *Humpback Whale, Public Domain

This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken or made as part of an employee's official duties.
This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.

14 comments:

  1. Seems like maybe we should find a safer way to transport oil...if they can't stop spills from happening altogether. You'd think with all the technology we have today, that wouldn't be so hard for them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You would think that, but I've seen some of the tankers at the Burnaby site. A lot of these are offshore owned, so how strict are inspections?

      Delete
  2. I wouldn't trust those lousy oil companies to value anything other than their own pockets.

    And regarding whale watching, comedian Demetri Martin has a great quote on this one: "I went whale watching once. It was very similar to watching people on a boat become disappointed."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An apt quote, and that happens. It's kind of hard to make them conform, to be where the humans want to see them. Can't blame them much for shunning us.

      Delete
  3. Well I was born and raised on Cape Cod, lived on San Francisco Bay and near Puget Sound. I love whales. I went on a whale watch out of Victoria and saw L Pod off San Juan Island. The whales, oceans and all marine life MUST be protected.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Then you know why I get concerned, too, JoJo. I never saw these impressive creatures until I came to British Columbia.

      Delete
  4. I've never seen a whale and it is one of my biggest dreams. It's in my bucket list. Go to Los Cabos and see the whales. I hope I can do this before they go extinct. So many factors threatening their existence and so little is done for the wildlife nowadays.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's why I'm trying to heighten awareness about the dangers to whales and other creatures. Just heard about the ice sheet that has split off in Anarctica. . .

      Delete
  5. Beautiful animals, they should be protected. Oil companies care about nothing but money, but I hope they can find a safer way to ship oil that does not have such a big risk on our waters and wildlife.
    I'd love to see whales in the wild, and dolphins too, it would be a dream come true for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We each have places and things we want to see. I want to see the Thames and The Tower, and the bridges which remind me of Paris.

      Good Luck with your Awareness of ME campaign, Hayley-Eszti!

      Delete
  6. I wish we could move away from our dependence on fossil fuels. As Neil deGrasse Tyson says, our planet is bombarded in free/clean energy all the time by the sun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would take forcing everyone to drive the same electric cars, but when our Antarctic is melting it might be a good time to get started finding a substitute.

      Delete
  7. Living in San Diego allows opportunities for whale sighting. Magnificent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whales are magnificent. I'm worried about the rising and warming seas and what effect that will have on sea creatures.

      Delete

Comments will be reviewed before they show on the blog.