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Defining and defending marine mammal habitat

Killer Whales

Marine Mammal Team

Scientist and Project Lead- Paul Paquet
Biologist – Caroline Fox
Biologist- Misty MacDuffee

Why Marine Mammals?

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.

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. Scientific results of our surveys were completed in 2009 and are presented in the document “Predictive modelling of marine mammals in the Queen Charlotte Basin”. 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 the Great Bear Rainforest, such threats to cetaceans and pinnipeds include:

  • dwindling food supplyBrian
  • toxins and pollution
  • underwater noise, sonar and seismic tests
  • ship strikes
  • entanglement in fishing nets and garbage
  • oil spills from proposed tanker traffic

Informed Advocacy:  What is Raincoast doing for  Marine Mammals?

What's at Stake Report Cover

Stopping oil tankers on the BC coast

These initiatives span raising awareness about impacts and risks of oil tankers to being intervenors on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal to ship oil through the Queen Charlotte Basin.  Our team has critically evaluated Enbridge’s proposal, provided evidence, are prepared to present expert testimony, be cross examined and undertake cross examination as part of the National Energy Board hearings.

Pacific white-sided dolphins in waters of the Great Bear Rainforest Systematic Marine Surveys

After surveying 14,000 km of ocean trackline, abundance and distribution estimates for marine mammals have been produced. Read more


Legal action to protect killer whale habitat

Ecojustice, on behalf of Raincoast and others, filed a lawsuit to protect Canada’s resident killer whales. Read More



Stopping Underwater Seismic Testing

BATHOLICS marine component stopped, but other are scheduled. Read more.

Public and Scientific Outreach

Raincoast science papers on BC marine mammals

Scientific papers

The marine mammal team presents their work at scientific conferences and publishes in academic journals.  click here

What's at Stake Report CoverPopular reports

Popular reports capture the broader knowledge and applications of our marine work.  They provide general overviews and convey our research findings within the context of prevailing philosophies and ecological realities.  click here

Extent of gulf oil spill as of May 3 2010Media and news coverage

From the Globe and Mail, Calgary Harold and Financial Post to regional and weekly newspapers, the Raincoast marine mammal teams spreads the word about our priceless coast and its marine wildlife. click here

What can you do?

Express your views in letters to the editor, web forums, blogs, and to elected officials.