2015 RCGS Independent Research Grant Recipient
Though drastically reduced due to whaling last century, humpback whale numbers in the North Pacific are recovering. However, these whales still face continued and increasing threats from numerous human activities. The Recovery Strategy for the North Pacific Humpback Whale in Canada identifies a number of anthropogenic threats to humpbacks, including acoustic disturbance, toxic spills, prey shortages, vessel strikes, and entanglement in fishing gear, the last two threats being of greatest known concern.
Well placed for data collection in this hard-to-reach area, Salmon Coast researchers will perform five surveys circumnavigating Gilford Island between May and August 2015. The survey crew will take humpback identification photos, mark locations of potential threats to humpbacks, and collect sightings data for all species of cetaceans.
The data collected in this remote location during these surveys will be incorporated into larger data collection initiatives by conservation and research organizations working to implement the humpback recovery strategy, including the BC Cetacean Sightings Network (BCCSN), the Marine Education and Research Society (MERS), and the Oceans Initiative.
In addition to collecting data in remote locations to support research priorities outlined in the humpback recovery strategy, data generated by these surveys will be used to aid in Salmon Coast outreach to raise boater awareness of entanglement and vessel strike threats to humpbacks in our area, will allow us the opportunity to include high school and college marine mammal ecology students in an authentic marine mammal study, and will help lay the groundwork for future cetacean research projects at Salmon Coast.