October's tragedy aboard the Leviathan II claimed six lives. (Photo: TSB/Flickr)
The loss of the six souls on the Leviathan II sent shock waves across the global whale-watching industry, which boasts a stellar safety record, Harris said. "This tragedy in many, many ways has sent ripples across the whale-watch industry, globally, especially North America," said Harris in a telephone interview from Seattle. "We're all watching this," he said. "Whenever something happens and you are so shocked that your heart just sinks you don't get over that soon." "We don't want it to ever happen again anywhere on the planet. We really need to take care of our passengers." His association represents 36 west-coast whale-watch operators along the Pacific Coast near Victoria and Seattle. It does not represent operators off Tofino.
"Whenever something happens and you are so shocked that your heart just sinks you don't get over that soon."
Jamie's Whaling Station, one of many whale-watching companies in the community, was involved in both accidents with its vessels: the 20-metre Leviathan II and the six-metre Ocean Thunder. (Photo: Facebook)
"This would have raised the centre of gravity, affecting the vessel’s stability," said investigator Marc-Andre Poisson in Tofino just days after the boat flipped. "We also know that the sea conditions were such that the wave approached the vessel from the starboard quarter. We know the vessel broached and then capsized." Survivor Dwayne Mazereeuw of Calgary said last month that he noticed a large wave approaching from his right, but didn't think it was dangerous until people were tossed into the water. "From what I know, and what I saw, I would say it was a large wave that broadsided us, broadsided the boat and knocked it right over," he said. Images of the inverted bow of the Leviathan II bobbing in the ocean were transmitted worldwide. The TSB's report into the Ocean Thunder incident described water conditions similar to those mentioned in the Leviathan's preliminary-investigation report and a survivor's account. "The waters were turbulent and the sea and swell were confused," stated the 25-page report. "As the boat made its way through the turbulent waters near the reefs and the operator negotiated a channel between the rocks, a wave from the stern swamped the boat." A second large wave struck the Ocean Thunder from the port side and raised the port side to a near vertical angle, stated the report. "The suddenness of the roll to a large angle and the breaking wave caused the passengers and the operator to be thrown over the starboard side and into the sea. No mayday message was transmitted." Ahousaht First Nation Coun. Tom Campbell, said the area around Plover Reefs has plentiful marine wildlife and is frequented by whale watchers, but the waters are not predictable. Campbell said he finds himself counting waves near the reefs because the fourth wave is often furious. Campbell's relatives at the nearby First Nation's village of Ahousaht were instrumental is rescuing the people on board the Leviathan II. Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne said her community is struggling to make sense with what happened on the water. "It really is a grieving process for many people," she said. "We're all waiting for the results of the TSB to see what recommendations they might be making."
"It really is a grieving process for many people," she said. "We're all waiting for the results of the TSB to see what recommendations they might be making."
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