Haida fisheries guardians and DFO officers use inflatable pontoons to float a beached “whale” filled with water and sized to be a stand-in for an orca or young humpback. (Genevieve Cauffopé/Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Haida Gwaii fishery staff gear up for marine mammal rescues

Haida fishery guardians and DFO fishery officers better equipped to rescue marine mammals

A strange whale recently showed up by Cemetery Beach in Masset — a rare species that could really thrive in a backyard pool.

Made of black plastic and filled with water, the 12-foot model whale was used to show DFO fishery officers and Haida fishery guardians how to re-float a whale using a pair of bright yellow pontoons and a sling.

The exercise was part of a series of training sessions that should help the next time a marine mammal gets beached or entangled around Haida Gwaii.

“We want to be as prepared as we can,” said Genevieve Cauffopé, a program officer with the conservation and protection branch of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Especially in the waves, Cauffopé said the model whale is a good stand-in for the real thing — a beached orca or other mid-sized cetacean, such as a young humpback.

Fitted with handles for up to 14 rescuers plus hooks for towing with a boat, the yellow pontoons used in the exercise are now stored at the DFO office in Masset.

Fishery officers and guardians also practiced first step for disentangling a much larger whale — attaching a satellite tag so an expert can find the animal before the entangling gear puts its life at risk.

While people may want to try and immediately cut an entangled whale loose, it presents a deadly risk to people and to whales too.

In the past, inexperienced people have managed to cut away just enough gear that the whale swims away half-entangled, making it harder to reach before it dies of complications.

Anyone who sees a marine mammal in distress should report it by phoning 1-800-465-4336.

Besides beached and entangled animals, the training sessions covered how to do a marine mammal necropsy. The next time a marine mammal carcass washes up on Haida Gwaii, the fishery guardians and officers will have a kit and the know-how to collect tissue samples that may show researchers just how the animal died.

Cauffopé said the training program, funded by the federal Oceans Protection Plan, may run a second time in Queen Charlotte later this year.

“That was a nice group,” she said of the three Haida guardians and seven DFO officers who took part in Masset.

“It was great that they did the training together because they’ll be working as a team if there is another occurrence in Haida Gwaii.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Mold shuts down construction at QC supportive housing project

Construction of the new 19-unit modular housing complex in Queen Charlotte has… Continue reading

Conservation office launches new gaurdian role for Haida Gwaii

Possition developed in part to improve partnerships with Haida Nation

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

All Native Basketball Tournament: Intermediate Finals

All Native Basketball Tournament: Intermediate Finals

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

70% of Canadians agree with mandatory vaccines for children: poll

The debate for pro and anti vaccinations has heated up after a measles outbreak in Vancouver

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

‘A little baloney’ in PM’s claim about solicitor-client privilege on SNC-Lavalin

The Conservatives and NDP want Trudeau to waive that privilege so Wilson-Raybould can offer her side of the story

Proposed edible pot rules are wasteful, would leave products tasteless: critics

When Canada legalized weed last fall, it only allowed fresh or dried bud, oil, plants and seeds

Samsung folding phone is different – but also almost $2,000

But most analysts see a limited market for foldable-screen phones

Alcohol policies fizzle for Canadian governments as harms overflow: reports

About 80 per cent of Canadians drink, and most enjoy a drink or two

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Most Read