Oil tankers could silence humpback whales, World Wildlife Fund warns at Enbridge hearings
Enbridge Inc. is getting an earful in Vancouver.
In the first two days of oral statement hearings in the city, which started Monday (January 14), the joint review panel has listened to speaker after speaker say they oppose the company’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.
Environmentalists may be interested in what Linda Nowlan told the panel on Tuesday (January 15).
Nowlan is the conservation director of the Pacific region office of World Wildlife Fund Canada. According to the transcript posted on the panel’s website, she talked about humpback whales and the north coast of B.C., which tankers will navigate to get their shipments of Alberta bitumen from a terminal in Kitimat.
She said that humpbacks as well as killer whales and fin whales “like this area…because it’s a quiet haven”.
“There’s not that much sound. There’s not that much boat traffic, ship traffic, tanker traffic. It’s a quiet haven,” Nowlan noted.
Then she talked about the song of the humpback whales.
“The humpback whales—I don’t know if you have had evidence on this or know about the amazing song of male humpbacks—they sing the same song throughout the Pacific Ocean each year—the males—and each year the song changes. This is a remarkable example of animal communication. They need a quiet ocean for this communication to occur.”
Nowlan continued: “The area that this project is proposed to occur in is one of the few areas in the Pacific that researchers and experts know about where the male humpbacks practice this song each fall.”
“Will they still be able to do that if there’s more than a tanker a day travelling through these areas with the huge increase in underwater noise?” Nowlan asked. “I don’t think so.”