mers marine education research society whale jigger lunge feeding mml 57 seagulls flying above

Jigger (BCX1188) lunge-feeding ©MERS, MML-57

What We Do

For the whales and the ocean they depend on

Three pillars for conservation

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.

  • Our Areas of Focus

    Research, Education and Response are equally important to us at the Marine Education and Research Society. Each informs the other, ensuring a holistic and integrated approach to marine conservation.

    • Our work to increase knowledge of the importance of BC’s marine environment and reduce threats to marine species includes: development of educational resources, media engagement, and presentations/courses to First Nations, boating groups, marine naturalists, fisheries officers, and other government officials.

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    • Our research is aimed at reducing threats to marine species by informing policy and management decisions, and empowering us as educators. Our research efforts allow us to speak firsthand about issues related to whale survival. The majority of our current research is on Humpback Whales. Additional projects are directed at learning about poorly understood species such as Minke Whales and Mola spp.

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    • We reduce threats to marine wildlife not only through rescue operations (as tasked by DFO), but also by studying how often and where incidents occur and tracking the survival of Humpback Whales involved. We train and support a local network to ensure reporting of incidents happens quickly, and that there are volunteers able to assist when needed.

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See a Blow?
Go Slow!

Ripple (BCX1063) exhaling ©MERS, MML-42

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 our reach 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 the whales. Sponsor a Humpback Whale. Purchase sustainable goods from the Ocean Store.

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

mers marine education research society class workshop happy people eager to learn about whales

“Who Am I” activity at MERS Course ©MERS

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…