Three people were injured when a guided fishing boat hit a whale in the waters just outside Naden Harbour on Sunday.
The boat was motoring back to Peregrine Lodge at around 20 knots on Sunday afternoon when fishers in another Peregrine boat travelling alongside them saw a whale surface just ahead of them in Virago Sound.
“It did not breach — it surfaced to take air, a couple inches showing above the water,” said Sergeant Steve Vince of the Masset RCMP, who are investigating the collision on behalf of the Transportation Safety Board.
When the boat struck, all five people on board were thrown violently forward.
One man was seriously injured, and he and another man were later flown by air ambulance to hospitals in Vancouver and Prince Rupert. Neither suffered life-threatening injuries.
The boat sustained some damage, but those on board were able to return to Peregrine Lodge under their own power.
Search and rescue volunteers with Masset Marine Rescue were first on scene to help the injured, followed by the air ambulance helicopter that landed by the lodge. One of the injured men is from B.C., the other from California.
Back at Peregrine Lodge, responders saw what appeared to be whale tissue lodged on the boat hull.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is now investigating, trying to see if they can find the injured whale. WorkSafeBC will also investigate the incident.
Sgt. Vince and other islands residents have said there seems to be an increased number of whales swimming in northern Haida Gwaii waters this year.
Vince said the rare strike was unfortunate, and tough to avoid, noting that the boat was travelling at a reasonable speed for the sea conditions.