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Monitoring and Research

Our Research

Since the mid-1980s, Ocean Wise has conducted conservation-oriented research on killer whales, belugas, and other marine mammals. The program focuses on long-term studies of marine mammal populations and the threats these at-risk populations face. The program’s particular strengths are in cetacean (whale, dolphin and porpoise) distribution and abundance, acoustic behaviour, population genetics, and photogrammetric monitoring of health and condition of killer whales and humpback whales.


Of the 23 species of whales, dolphins, porpoises, and sea turtles found in the waters of British Columbia, 12 are listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act as Endangered, Threatened, or of Special Concern. These animals face many anthropogenic (human-caused) threats that negatively impact critical life processes necessary to maintain healthy populations.

Our Research Offices

Whales Headquarters - Vancouver, BC

North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative - Prince Rupert, BC

Southern Vancouver Island Cetacean Research Initiative - Victoria, BC

Whales Headquarters - Vancouver, BC

Building on 30 years of conservation-based research, Ocean Wise's Whale program focuses on addressing the conservation threats of habitat use and quality, prey availability, genetic fitness, contaminants, underwater noise, and physical disturbance. Members of the team serve on numerous advisory committees and expert panels focused on conservation, education, and research. Ocean Wise delivers critical information about cetacean and environmental health to decision makers to support global cetacean conservation efforts.

North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative - Prince Rupert, BC

Ocean Wise's North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative (NCCRI) is a field office based in Prince Rupert, B.C. The NCCRI fills a critical knowledge gap by hosting a community-based cetacean program in Northern British Columbia, an area previously understudied but biologically important for cetaceans.

In addition to citizen science the NCCRI conducts applied research projects to learn more about locally important species, develops tools to directly impact cetacean conservation, and engages the community in learning about the marine environment and at-risk cetacean populations.

Southern Vancouver Island Cetacean Research Initiative - Victoria, BC

Ocean Wise's Southern Vancouver Island Cetacean Research Initiative (SVICRI) is a field office based in Victoria, B.C. The SVICRI fills a significant marine mammal science and conservation gap in the transboundary region of Southern Vancouver Island, Juan de Fuca and Haro Strait. As a local hub of marine mammal expertise the SVICRI performs rigorous research, provides engaging education, and policy support in collaboration with the broader conservation community.

Since its inception in 2019, the SVICRI has provided extensive outreach and education to the local and transboundary communities around Southern Vancouver Island and in Washington State, established strong partnerships with government, military, other ENGOs, local businesses and within academia, managed and supported several marine mammal research projects, and has regularly provided policy-related advice to decisionmakers.

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