Mr. Peter Hamilton
Vancouver, British Colummbia
Dear. Mr. Hamilton,
Thank you for your recent fax regarding your concerns about the possibility of mishaps between our new fast ferries and orcas.
I appreciate your concern for our marine wildlife, and I can assure you that B.C. Ferries has investigated this possibility by consulting with marine and cetacean biologists. The Corporation has concluded that the likelihood of such a mishap is minimal for the following reasons.
The areas most frequented by the southern gulf resident orcas are the waters of Southern Vancouver Island in the Race Rocks/Haro Strait/San Juan Islands corridor. Sightings of these whales in the central Georgia Strait area are unusual, and the northern residents do not venture that far south.
For the past 13 years, the waters the orcas inhabit have been transited from two to ten times daily by the fast catamarans operated by Victoria Clipper, without incident. Their flagship, the Clipper IV, has a service speed of 45 knots, significantly faster than the 37 knots of the PacifiCats.
While transient pods may transit the mid-strait area, the noise generated by the large water jets and engines of the PacifiCats would deter any whales from remaining in the area.
Orcas are very agile, and are excellent navigators. Fast whale-watching boats, which travel at 35 knots, must slow down appreciably when in orca territory, or they will never see a whale.
There is absolutely no evidence to show that the operation of B.C. Ferries' vessels has had any negative impact on other species of marine wildlife. The fast ferry service you refer to, across the mouth of the Bay of Fundy faces different challenges, and is not comparable to B.C. Ferries' situation. Bay Ferries' "Cat" has a service speed of 43 knots, and travels through waters frequented by minke, right, and humpbacked whales, which are significantly larger, and much slower, than orcas.
Again, thank you for writing and for the opportunity to address your concerns.