Humpback whales will be traveling through the Virgin Islands waters during the early spring season.
Marine Biologist of the Conservation and Fisheries Department, Argel Horton said that many different species of whales are found throughout the year in the Caribbean region but from December to April, humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) migrate south from the North Atlantic waters to mate and breed.
Ms. Horton said, “During this time, humpbacks are seen in the Turks and Caicos Islands and as far south as Venezuela. The most concentrated breeding areas are the Silver and Navidad Banks off the northern coast of Dominican Republic but humpback whales are often seen and clearly heard underwater in the BVI during their annual southern migration.”
Acting Deputy Chief Conservation and Fisheries Officer, Mervin Hastings, stated that persons should be safe when encountering whales, and boaters are to stay at least 100 yards away from the whale and put their vessel’s engine in neutral.
Mr. Hastings said, “Never use your boat to pursue a whale, as they are capable of capsizing boats; avoid swimming with whales as they are unpredictable and may become aggressive if threatened and always allow the whale to control the nature and duration of the encounter.”
He further added, “When the whales swim away, the encounter is finished. Let it go. Count yourself fortunate to have witnessed this majestic creature in action and please always notify the department of its location.”
The Conservation and Fisheries Department is encouraging persons to report any and all whale sightings to the Department at 468-2700 or to post the picture on its Facebook page “BVICFD”.