Earlier this week tourists near Port Hardy got an up close and personal experience with the whales that they were watching. Tourists sat enraptured as a caring fisherman cut a young orca from a fishing net. Bill Mackay as running a 17 meter long boat with a total of 47 passengers aboard off the coast of Port Hardy on the 25th of August 2014; the boat was part of a whale watching tour that was in search of pods A, G, and R in the channel.
The group heard some rather strange calls with the aid of a hydrophone and Mackay sprung into action. After the distress calls were heard, the coast guard sent out a message telling all nearby boats to help an elderly fisherman that had accidentally caught a baby orca in his net. Mackay quickly steered his vessel to the first fishing boat he saw, which was the right one per chance, and he proceeded to help the man.
The young orca, obviously in distress, swam to the bottom with his fellow orcas which caused the fishing boat to sway dangerously. The elderly fisherman could not remove the orca on his own Mackay leapt to his aid. The fisherman used his wench system to get the young orca back to the surface so that it could be cut free. The pair then proceeded to cut the net and free the whale.
Mackay has since watched the whale and is satisfied that it is recovering from its traumatic experience to his great joy. Mackay says that in his 30 plus years of running his whale watching tour he has never been involved or even heard of an experience like this. The fisherman made the right choices to get the whale back to its family safely and he deserves the credit for saving the life of this majestic animal.