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
Raincoast is working to improve the living conditions for southern resident killer whales. This began in 2008 with a law suit. Ecojustice, our lawyers on behalf of Raincoast and other NGOs, filed a lawsuit to protect resident killer whale habitat.
Opinion: Saving more than memories
Vancouver Sun opinion piece by Raincoast’s Misty MacDuffee and Chris Genovali discusses the future of Canada’s endangered southern resident killer whales in the Salish Sea…
Tired of waiting for feds, advocates take own path to protect orcas
Amy Smart / Times Colonist
A group of orca advocates is making its own plans to protect endangered killer whales, saying a federal action plan is overdue…
Will there be peace on Earth for killer whales?
“Peace on Earth” should extend goodwill and compassion to the non-human families and communities with whom we share this planet…
Canada failing to protect habitat of imperilled species
Judith Lavoie / Desmog Canada
Official recognition that a Canadian species is in trouble is no guarantee that the slide towards extinction can be slowed or halted, a new study has found…