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Two killer whales swimming in the ocean

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:

A group of killer whales break through the surface of the water

  • 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 Work

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.

Marine Surveys

A humpback breaching out of the water

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

a killer whale spyhopping

Ecojustice, on behalf of Raincoast and others, filed a lawsuit to protect resident killer whale habitat.

 

Marine Mammal Papers →     Marine Mammal Reports → 

 

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