Saturday, March 11th from 7 to 9 pm.
Join us for an evening of efforts #ForTheWhales - collaborations to reduce threats to Humpback Whales off the coast of British Columbia.
Register at this link
Who are the whales? What do they eat? How to reduce noise, entanglement and collision?
The following MERS Research Associates and Collaborators will share overviews of their projects to help answer these questions.
Tasli Shaw (Humpbacks of the Salish Sea)
Humpbacks of the Salish Sea: Who They Are and Why it Matters
Humpback Whales are becoming more frequent in the Salish Sea, largely thanks to the end of commercial whaling. This species, once considered unusual to see in the region, are now observed year round throughout the Salish Sea, with dense aggregations seen in some areas. But who are these whales exactly? Humpback Whales of the Salish Sea tracks the individual Humpbacks around SE Vancouver Island through photo identification methods, noting site fidelity, trends, and behaviour. These efforts are aimed at informing research questions, specifically those that look at anthropogenic threats such as increasing shipping traffic.
Ashley Hoyland and Mark Sawyer (Humpback Whales of Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds)
The Humpbacks of Southwest Vancouver Island - community effort to catalogue Humpbacks and why it matters
Ashley and Mark have been documenting Humpbacks around Southwest Vancouver Island since 2019. Community effort is vital to better understand the Humpbacks that visit the waters around SWVI (and elsewhere). Hear more about why reporting sightings has such a benefit to the whales, what we can learn from the whales that visit the area, and how it takes a community to study these animals.
Ali Gladwell (University of Victoria)
Too close for comfort? Boater behaviour around marine mammals in the Johnstone Strait area: research to help inform boater education.
Ali is currently a master's student in the Applied Conservation Science Lab at the University of Victoria. Her work focuses on observing interactions between marine mammals and boats and exploring the factors that influence boater behaviour in the Johnstone Strait Region. Results from this work will identify areas of focus as input into management decisions and inform the Marine Education and Research Society’s “See a Blow, Go Slow!” campaign and online boater education course. Broadly, this study can inform regulations in other areas towards consistent policy across jurisdictions for these highly mobile marine mammal species.
Joan Moreaux (University of British Columbia)
The diet of individual Humpback Whales and why it matters to their conservation
Joan’s Master project aims to determine the contribution of different prey items (including krill and herring) to the humpback whale’s diet. Many Humpback Whales travel thousands of kilometers from the breeding grounds to feed in the productive Canadian Pacific waters. These generalist feeders are presumed to forage on euphausiid (krill) species and schooling fish. Yet, the diet composition of humpback whales feeding around Vancouver Island has never been studied. This project aims to study the contribution of different prey types to Humpback Whale diet and will contribute to efforts in determining the ecological role of Humpback Whales in British Columbia and thus help inform fisheries management as well as the conservation of marine mammals.
Gary Sutton (Ocean Wise) and Emily Cowie (MERS)
Studying scars - aerial photographs to help determine rates of collision and entanglement in Humpback Whales
Ocean Wise and the Marine Education and Research Society are collaborating to study the rate of Humpback Whale entanglement and vessel strike off the coast of Northeast Vancouver Island and British Columbia’s North and Central Coasts. Using aerial images collected by Oceanwise over multiple field seasons, we are able to assess the scars on individual Humpback Whales as potential evidence of surviving entanglement and/or ship strike. This study will also compare aerial and vessel-based methods used for determining entanglement rate of humpback whales.