Defining and defending marine mammal habitat
Paul Paquet, Senior Scientist
Caroline Fox, Research Scientist
Misty MacDuffee, Biologist
Adrianne Jarvela Rosenberger, Marine Biologist
The coastal waters of British Columbia are home to over 20 species of marine mammals, including baleen and toothed whales, dolphins, porpoises sea lions, seals and sea otters. Most of these animals are long-lived and reproduce slowly, often with just one offspring at a time.
Why Marine Mammals?
Until a few decades ago, commercial whaling severely depleted many of the blue whales, fin whales, humpbacks and minkes that inhabited our waters. Today, our image of whales has changed, and the global moratorium on whaling has given many of these species an opportunity to recover. Our observations suggest that more humpbacks and fin whales are returning to BC coastal waters. Even blue whales, the worlds largest mammal hunted to near extinction, were documented in 2007 off the coast of BC.
Today, the greatest threat to marine mammals is still humans, but largely through our impacts on their habitat and food supply. In the coastal waters of British Columbia, such threats to cetaceans and pinnipeds include:
- dwindling food supply
- toxins and pollution
- underwater noise, sonar and seismic tests
- ship strikes
- entanglement in fishing nets and garbage
- oil spills from proposed tanker traffic
Raincoast’s efforts to protect marine mammals include our Oil-Free Coast initiative and our efforts to stop both the Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain Expansion projects. Both projects will see a dramatic increase in tanker traffic through habitat critical to the survival of many species, including humpback, fin and resident killer whales. Raincoast is also a strong advocate of salmon for wildlife works to ensure an adequate supply of chinook salmon for resident killer whales.
After travelling 14,000 km of ocean trackline during our marine surveys, abundance and distribution estimates for the marine mammals of coastal BC have been produced.
Protecting Resident Killer Whales
Ecojustice, on behalf of Raincoast and others, filed a lawsuit to protect resident killer whale habitat.
Premature: Raincoast comments on SARA down-listing of humpbacks
Raincoast is concerned the proposed down-listing of SARA listed North Pacific humpback whales in BC is premature. We submitted comments in May 2014 to the federal government…
Celebrate World Oceans Day
Join us to celebrate! Sunday June 8th from 11am to 3pm in Beacon Park (Sidney), sponsored by Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre…
Critics say Canada shouldn’t have taken Humpback Whales off the Endangered Species List
David P. Ball / VICE
The Canadian government’s announcement that it’s knocking humpback whales off its endangered species list has critics pulling their “Save the whales!” signs from the 1980s out of storage…
Comment: Down-listing puts humpbacks in jeopardy
Misty MacDuffee & Chris Genovali
The federal government intends to down-list the status of North Pacific humpback whales…