COURTENAY, B.C- The grey whale that visited the Courtenay River yesterday may have moved on.

According to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Pacific Marine Mammal coordinator Paul Cottrell, the whale hasn’t been spotted this morning.

The last time the animal was seen, it had moved upriver. DFO officials had been following it since the early afternoon yesterday, and last spotted the whale upriver as darkness was falling.

The whale spouts off water in the Courtenay River in the rivermouth on the morning of December 19th, 2018. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

The DFO vessel has not been launched today and Cottrell indicated that wouldn’t be likely, due to the rough weather. Instead, officers are keeping an eye on the river from the land, with concerns over shallow waters possibly stranding the whale.

“We were following him all of yesterday afternoon,” said Cottrell.

“He was going up to the bridge, back down to the lower reaches, he was doing circuits, which was quite interesting. It seemed like he would get to the lower reaches, and maybe because it kind of shallows out there, he was reluctant to go out to the estuary. We’re hoping, last night, with the higher tides, he popped out over that sandy bar.”

The identity and gender of the whale is still unknown, and the reason why it came to the river is still unknown as well.

Cottrell asked for anyone who spots the whale to contact DFO, so they can make sure it’s in good health.

Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations were updated in July 2018.

No person shall approach a marine mammal to, or to attempt to,

– feed it;

– swim with it or interact with it;

– move it or entice or cause it to move from the immediate vicinity in which it is found;

– separate it from members of its group or go between it and a calf;

–  trap it or its group between a vessel and the shore or between a vessel and one or more other vessels; or

–  tag or mark it.

Minimum approach distances for vessels:

– 200 metres for all Killer Whales (in Pacific waters);

– 200 metres for whale, dolphin and porpoise species with calves or in resting position; and

– 100 metres for all other whales, dolphins and porpoises.

If you a sight a whale, report it to the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network at 1-866-472-9663.