Story by Jon Gauthier

The Marine Education and Research Society based in Port McNeill has sent out an alert for a humpback whale. 

“PHI” the humpback whale is most often seen near Campbell River but has recently been tangled in ropes, causing her to flee north.

That’s what humpback specialist with the society, Jackie Hildering says.

“What she appears to be doing is fleeing, and whether she will keep on going to the north or that she will come back down to where she is much more often sighted, which is Campbell River and Hornby, we don’t know.” 

Hildering says the whale is known as “PHI” and she was first spotted last Tuesday in the Campbell River/Quadra area.

A disentanglement team from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was quickly deployed once they were informed that she needed help. 

Hildering adds that on Tuesday and Wednesday the DFO team attempted to untangle PHI but they ran out of daylight north of the Sayward/Kelsey Bay area. 

On Thursday PHI was found just outside Port McNeill and the society worked with the DFO to get a grapple and tag onto her but once again they ran out of daylight.

Hildering says the whale seems fine for now, but her long term health could be at risk.

“She’s moving well, it’s possible that the gear will somehow shift but it’s also possible that the long term effects of her having the entanglement are that she cant feed properly or it leads to  infection.”

Hildering also says if you think you have found PHI, or any other entangled whale, call the Incident Reporting Line immediately at 1-800-465-4336 and standby the whale if possible. 

She says it is very important that the exact location is recorded with time and photos of the whale.

To learn more about what to do and not to do when it comes to whale entanglement, click here.