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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.

BC’s whales need protected waters

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 world’s 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 include:

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

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.

The WHaLE Project

Ocean-going vessels pose a threat to large whales. In Canada, vessel strikes and underwater noise are conservation concerns for the many SARA-listed baleen whales.  Using new and emerging technologies (like underwater drones), we can acquire much-needed information and contribute to efforts to reduce vessel strike risk

Marine Surveys

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 Southern Resident Killer Whales

Raincoast is working to improve the living conditions and recover southern resident killer whales.  This began in 2008 with a law suit filed to protect resident killer whale habitat.

Marine Mammal Papers →Marine Mammal Reports → 

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Latest News

Water splashes in every direct from an unseen killer whale

Our letter of support for the proposed whale protection zone on the west side of San Juan Island

Today we posted our comments on a petition to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States to establish a whale protection zone for Southern Resident killer whales…

Killer whale scientists call for a quieter Salish Sea

20 killer whale scientists have signed a letter calling on the Canadian federal government to reduce noise levels in the Salish Sea and assist the recovery of Southern Resident killer whales…

Orcas at Risk: April 18, Mary Winspear Centre, Sidney, BC

Join Raincoast, Elizabeth May, music from Reverie, drinks and discussion of recovery efforts for the Salish Sea’s endangered killer whales…

Pipeline expansion a death knell for endangered whales

Oil tankers could travel completely according to plan -with no oil spills and no ship strikes to killer whales- and the risk of extinction still increases by up to 25% from noise alone…

It’s Oil or Orcas

by Judith Lavoie, The Tyee
Southern Resident killer whales threatened by increased tanker traffic, experts say…

Endangered BC orcas could face extinction with Trans Mountain approval

CTV goes in depth with Raincoast to discuss implications to Southern Resident killer whales from Kinder Morgan approval…

Killer Whale in the Pacific

Today’s approval of TMX sanctions probable extinction of the Southern Resident killer whales

Trudeau government’s approval is neither science-based nor in Canada’s best interest, and does not safeguard killer whales…

Reject Kinder Morgan and say ‘yes’ to recovery of endangered killer whales

Raincoast video urges public action to reject Kinder Morgan and recover endangered Southern Resident killer whales…

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