Brendon B. is a whale watching naturalist with Eagle Wing Tours and a Canadian Geographic published photographer! Check out all of his whale tales on his storyteller page!
Where did your whale love start?
My love of whales started at an early age. Truth be told, for as long as I can remember I have been consumed by a love and a fascination for marine mammals. I experienced my first interaction with killer whales when I was only a few years old, barely able to walk on my own. Every night, I’d sleep with a killer whale stuffy. You could say I was (and still very much remain!) utterly obsessed with killer whales.
What current ocean conservation issue do you feel most strongly about?
It’s a challenge to choose just ONE conservation issue…there are so many that I feel strongly about: unsustainable fishing practices leading to overfishing and by-catch; pollution from plastics, garbage, oil, and chemicals; offshore drilling; warming of the oceans; pipeline expansions, dams and perhaps most important to me: destructive open-net fish farming of (Atlantic) salmon in the Pacific Northwest.
What have you changed in your life to help save whales?
First and foremost, I took on a dream role as a naturalist. I educate and I attempt to inspire. Inspire others not only to care about whales and wildlife, but also to give them a voice. I remove debris from the ocean on tours whenever possible!
I have also taken the pledge to Go Green, which reduces my footprint on the environment. I typically use natural cleaning products and always bring reusable bags with me for groceries.
For several years now, I have been a proud vegetarian and have removed meat and fish from my diet, especially salmon. This is because Chinook salmon, in particular, is more important for the health and longevity of the killer whales I love than it could ever be to me. Chinook salmon is in short supply due to many factors including, but not limited to, overfishing, farming, pollution, habitat destruction, dams and climate change.
What advice would you give to others to take steps in their lives to help whales?
There are many ways that you can help whales, particularly the Southern Residents, too. The first is accepting this call to action. Words alone will not save these whales, only imminent and effective action. Inform yourself as a consumer. With the help of organizations such as Seafood Watch, promote only GREEN seafood choices in your diet, or better yet remove fish (namely salmon) from your diet all-together. Contact local governors in British Columbia and Washington concerning the Southern Residents and ask what they are doing to help. Push for dam removal, a moratorium on Chinook fisheries, removal of open-net ocean-based fish farms, and habitat restoration. Educate yourself through the Center for Whale Research and the Whale Museum. Educate others; tell them about this dwindling population and what they too can do to help. Truly, the list goes on and on.
Any whale tales to share? (what’s your favourite one you’ve already shared?)
I’m fortunate to have many experiences with whales, but I always think back to my first encounter with killer whales in the wild. Watching the K13s – a family of seven at the time – surf a freighter wake in Boundary Pass. We had just arrived on scene when K25, K27 and K34 erupted out of the water in a super-rare triple breach. They were probably exciting themselves for an approaching freighter, which they then surfed for the next 10-15 minutes.
One I haven’t shared with Whale Tales is a recent encounter with a Humpback whale known as “Nike.” We were watching a family of three transient killer whales (T123s) when we saw tail-slapping to the south. We motored over just as a humpback whale went on its sounding dive. It quickly surfaced next to the boat, so we shut off the engine, and for the next 10 minutes or so, Nike proceeded to scratch himself on the boat and pop up on either side of the vessel. He lifted his tail flukes out of the water upside-down and brought his pectoral fin above the surface of the water. It was insane! What is even more amazing is that the video that I took of the encounter was clear enough to deduce Nike’s gender: Nike is a male!