mers marine education research society whale pulteney bcz0297 lunge feeding with seagulls flying above

Pulteney (BCZ0297) lunge-feeding ©MERS, MML-42

About

Get to know MERS

Conservation through understanding

​​We are a registered Canadian charity promoting conservation and understanding of marine ecosystems. We are based on northern Vancouver Island in the Territories of the Kwak̕wala-speaking Peoples.

Our work revolves around three key pillars: research, education, and response. With a research focus on whales, we are driven to understand and reduce anthropogenic impacts on marine species. Our research directly influences our educational efforts to motivate behavioural change to reduce threats and inspire stewardship. We are primary responders for dead, distressed, and injured marine mammals (as tasked by DFO) and assist with training of response volunteers. Our research and education efforts inform communications around marine mammal rescue and response.

Preserve and sustain ocean ecosystems

  • Our Purpose

    The Marine Education and Research Society (MERS) is dedicated to promoting conservation and understanding of marine ecosystems through scientific research, environmental education, and marine wildlife response.

  • Our Goals

    • Healthy populations of marine species, free from anthropogenic threats
    • Comprehensive scientific knowledge of the ocean that informs decision-making
    • Citizens educated and empowered to care for the ocean and co-exist with marine life
    • Efficient, swift response to incidents that threaten individual animals or ecosystems
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Our Guiding Principles

  • Research & Education Together

    Both are equally important and inform the other

  • Science-forward

    Our advocacy is informed by solid science and experience

  • Solutions Based

    Empowering others to foster real conservation

  • Knowing Whales as Individuals

    The life history of individual whales can teach and inspire

  • Resourceful and Nimble

    We take action swiftly and do not shy away from complex issues

  • Community Building

    Conservation needs many champions; we empower others to create change

  • Research & Education Together

    Both are equally important and inform the other

  • Science-forward

    Our advocacy is informed by solid science and experience

  • Solutions Based

    Empowering others to foster real conservation

  • Knowing Whales as Individuals

    The life history of individual whales can teach and inspire

  • Resourceful and Nimble

    We take action swiftly and do not shy away from complex issues

  • Community Building

    Conservation needs many champions; we empower others to create change

Highlights of our work

  • Education & Outreach

    We undertake extensive outreach with recreational boaters to help them operate more safely around marine mammals. This is done through our “See a Blow, Go Slow” campaign that includes signage, marina visits, promotion of the Whale Warning Flag, presentations, and the development of an online boater safety course.

  • Education & Outreach

    We provide comprehensive workshops to First Nations, boating safety groups, marine naturalists, fisheries officers, and other government officials about local marine mammals, their threats, recent research and strategies for communicating and educating about these animals and their conservation.

  • Research

    We undertake research to understand threats to marine mammals and inform conservation. Projects include a collaborative scar-study that uses photographs of Humpbacks to assess evidence of entanglement and vessel strike, and a boater behaviour study about vessel compliance with Marine Mammal Regulations and guidelines.

  • Research

    We have been monitoring Humpback Whales off northeastern Vancouver Island since 2004 and lead the Canadian Pacific Humpback Collaboration, a consortium that collectively catalogues Humpbacks in BC. This centralized database of individual whales enables understanding of habitat use, population size and structure, life history, and the impacts of threats.

  • Response

    We are primary responders for dead, distressed, and injured marine mammals, as tasked by DFO. Our research and education efforts inform communications to support efficient, effective, and safe marine mammal rescue and response. This includes identifying injured Humpbacks and tracking their survival.

  • Research

    We study Humpback Whale feeding strategies including “trap-feeding” - a new way of feeding we first documented in 2011. By researching feeding strategies, there is better understanding of site fidelity and habitat needs for individual Humpbacks - why they feed where they do and the conditions required to meet their energy needs.

  • Education

    Our Ocean Voices campaign is aimed at increasing understanding of how important sound is to marine mammals. This is a solutions based campaign that aims to reduce human-made ocean noise through inspiring consumer and voter action and boater compliance with Marine Mammal Regulations and best practices.

Get involved with MERS

We expand the reach of our efforts through building community. Join us! There are many ways you can get involved. Participate in events. Help educate. Become a donor. Contribute data. Use the Whale Warning Flag and model best boating practices around marine mammals. Sponsor a Humpback Whale. Purchase sustainable goods from the Ocean Store.

Join us to help the whales, and the ocean they depend on.

MERS land-based study

MERS land-based study

Empowering minds, protecting marine life

Keep up to date

News & Blog

December 19, 2023

2023 MERS Annual Report

As 2023 comes to a close, we want to report out about our achievements this year. Our 2023 Annual Report highlights some…

December 1, 2023

Working with the BBC on Planet Earth III

By Jackie Hildering & Christie McMillan,Humpback Researchers, Marine Education & Research Society  [Update  December 1, 2023.Also see our article featured on…