Ocean Bridge Ambassador Rhys Spends the Summer Researching Humpback Whales
In 2021, 160 young people (ages 18-30) formed Ocean Wise’s Ocean Bridge program, a national team engaged for eleven months in co-creating and delivering ocean and waterway service projects for their home communities.
Rhys Jenson (he/him) is part of the 2021 Direct Action Ocean Bridge Team and completed his placement at the North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative (NCCRI). He currently resides in Prince Rupert, BC. Rhys wants to help foster a curiosity and respect for the ocean in people who would otherwise be indifferent through meaningful conversations. In his spare time, he likes to go skiing and surfing.
Prince Rupert is a small town on the Northwest coast of British Columbia. Known for its abundance of rain (and halibut,) Prince Rupert is an unsuspecting treasure. If you take a mere ten-minute boat ride from the town’s harbour, you’ll find yourself immersed in an ecological wonderland. As if it were some sort of global mustering point for cetaceans, the waters near Prince Rupert are full whales, porpoises, and even dolphins. In fact, every summer there is a mass migration of Humpback Whales to the North Coast. In the winters, the whales travel to the warmer waters (often Hawaii or Mexico) where they give birth and breed.
As part of the 2021 Direct Action cohort of Ocean Wise’s Ocean Bridge program, I spent three months with the North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative (NCCRI) in Prince Rupert. One of the initiative’s goals is to catalogue and better understand the population dynamics of Humpback Whales in the waters surrounding Prince Rupert. The North Coast team spends much time (weather permitting) on the water photographing and identifying Humpback Whales. The team also focuses on collecting environmental DNA (eDNA) which they often use to determine the sex of Humpbacks.
To help illustrate what a typical day with the North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative looks like, I created a vlog of our trip to Work Channel, the channel in the North Coast region of the Canadian province of British Columbia. The purpose of the trip was to get a better idea of what whales had returned to the North Coast that year. Additionally, we made some preliminary efforts to determine Humpback Whale body condition using drone photogrammetry.
Hope you enjoy!
What is Ocean Bridge?
Ocean Bridge brings together young Canadians with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences who are passionate about making a difference in their communities through the lens of oceans and waterway conservation. These Ocean Bridge Ambassadors from all across Canada work together, receive funding and learn from experts in marine conservation and education through an online platform and in-person learning journeys to develop service projects related to ocean health and ocean literacy in communities across the country. Ocean Bridge is an Ocean Wise initiative funded by the Government of Canada through the Canada Service Corps.
Ocean Bridge Direct Action is an exciting immersive program for in-depth learning and youth engagement with oceanic and aquatic conservation efforts across Canada. This national service-learning program will connect Canadian youth and young professionals with experts in marine and aquatic conservation organizations, empowering them with experiences in direct marine and aquatic conservation initiatives, adventurous opportunities for fieldwork, professional research projects, and educational and outreach programs.
Canada Service Corps
Canada Service Corps is designed to generate a culture of service among young Canadians; concrete results for communities; personal growth through participation in a diverse team of peers; and lasting impacts on participants. Visit www.canada.ca/CanadaServiceCorps to learn more and how to get involved in the way that works best for you.
Photo credit: Rhys Jenson (Taken under Marine Mammal Research Licence #18 with a zoom lens)