Janie and Hermann are working for the protection of orcas in the Great Bear Rainforest by tuning into underwater hydrophones and deciphering the secret language of these majestic animals.
It was at the age of nine that I first heard a recording of a humpback whale singing. Instantly I was both captivated and extremely curious. This was my first emotional response to sound, and the inspiration that led to a life-long commitment to understanding the behaviour of whales. After I graduated, my dream was to work with like-minded people and build a marine research station, off grid, in an area where whales thrive and the presence and impact of people are minimal. Like the whales, I am constantly migrating from one region of British Columbia to the other, following...
To enhance our understanding of the areas importance to killer whales in the region in a broader ecological context and add more data to the abundance estimate and spatial mapping analytical products currently being developed as a result of previously carried out projects.
The collected information is particularly important to the recovery efforts for northern resident killer whales in light of increased risks to these species. Furthermore, we will continue to provide all of our data to DFO’s Cetacean Research Program so it can be incorporated into their coastwise assessments of NRKWs. Our project will also increase the community’s capacity to manage cetaceans and provide sound information that can be applied to the management of numerous development and other human use proposals and activities.
In 2001 North Coast Cetacean Society built the remote whale research facility, Cetacea Lab, on Gil Island, B.C. In the years to follow a network of hydrophone stations were installed transmitting the sounds of the marine environment to Cetacea Lab from 5 to 30km away. This enabled North Coast Cetacean Society to monitor the acoustic occurrence of cetaceans in a very isolated part of British Columbia’s coastline. It soon became apparent that this area was extremely important habitat for humpback whales, killer whales and now a growing population of fin whales. In June 2008, North Coast Cetacean Society expanded their network of radio-linked hydrophones into Caamano Sound with the installation of a hydrophone station at Ulric Point on the northern tip of Aristazabal Island. A land-based outcamp was then established at Ulric Point with permission of the Gitga’at First Nations in 2009 in order to visually supplement on-going acoustic monitoring and document NRKW travel patterns in Caamano Sound, and more accurately assess NRKW frequency of occurrence in the region. In combination with the ongoing North Coast Cetacean Society efforts around Gil Island, this expansion into Caamano Sound allowed near continuous monitoring of: Caamano Sound, Campania Sound, Squally and Whale Channels, and to a lesser extent, Wright Sound.
The general aim of this project is to see the designation of Caamano Sound as Critical Habitat for northern resident killer whales.
Janie migrates along the British Columbian (BC) coast like the whales whose lives she’s been fascinated by since her childhood. Recording whale movement patterns from Fin Island Research Station in the Great Bear Rainforest in the summer, Janie moves southward to manage Orca Lab during the harsh winters. Her team aims to provide up-to-date information on cetaceans so that they can be better managed in the light of industrial development and growing human activity on the BC coast. From localising whale calls underwater to monitoring their behaviour from land and sea, Janie hopes for better protection for BC’s whales.