New Animated Film Highlights Threat to B.C. Wildlife from Oil Supertankers


From the Times-Colonist – April 13, 2011

by Judith Lavoie

An evocative animated video showing the silent, underwater world of
whales and dolphins that live near the Great Bear Rainforest is about to
become a weapon in the federal election campaign.

Copies of the
video, created by Simon Game of Victoria-based Picture Cloud Animation
for the wildlife conservation group Pacific Wild, will be given to
federal candidates and leaders of all parties, to illustrate potential
problems if the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is approved.

“It will help people visualize what could happen,” Game said.

video has also been posted on YouTube and Pacific Wild will host a film
tour along the pipeline route, from the Alberta oil sands to Kitimat.

Showings will also be held in coastal communities, said Ian McAllister, Pacific Wild spokesman.

film, Cetaceans of the Great Bear Rainforest, focuses on the noise that
would be created by oil supertankers taking bitumen from Kitimat to

“There are many reasons to oppose oil tankers on our coast,
but few people consider acoustic pollution as being one of them,”
McAllister said. “One cannot simply turn down the volume of an oil
tanker and we have fewer and fewer quiet refuges left on our coast.”

Meuter of Cetacealab, who has spent a decade studying whale acoustics
in northern B.C. waters, around Gil Island, Douglas Channel and Caamano
Sound, is alarmed by the prospect of a procession of oil tankers. The
film will help people think about the serious consequences for whales,
he said.

“It would certainly destroy one of the last remaining silent underwater worlds,” he said.

Whales depend on a quiet, underwater environment to hunt, communicate and navigate, Meuter said.

“What we use our eyes for, is what the whales use their ears for.”

addition to the threatened population of northern resident killer
whales, humpbacks are returning to the area and there is an increasing
population of fin whales — the second largest creatures on Earth.

area, on the route that would be used by tankers, appears to have
special significance for the songs of humpback whales, Meuter said.

“We think they practise their songs here before heading to Hawaii or Mexico where they present the final version,” he said.

create a noise underwater similar to a jet engine revving up beside a
person and the number of whales would certainly decline, Meuter said.

living on this coast have to realize what is at stake. If anything
happens here it will affect cetaceans of the whole coast and the million
dollar whale-watching industry.”

The $5.5-billion,
1,170-kilometre pipeline is under review by a federal panel made up of
the National Energy Board and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. A
decision is expected by late 2012.

Enbridge has also been pushing
the pipeline as an election issue. Patrick Daniel, the company’s chief
executive, has told business audiences that the pipeline is needed to
diversify Canada’s oil markets, so the country is not so reliant on the
U.S. as a customer.

The Conservatives will not back a tanker ban in northern B.C. waters, but opposition parties have called for a ban.

Read original article


About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.