MERS in 2012

MERS directors have kept busy over the winter… analyzing data, writing reports, giving presentations, and getting ready for another exciting field season!

Humpback whale tailstock (photo by Christie McMillan)

Our humpback whale entanglement study, which was funded by Mountain Equipment Co-op was a success… we were able to photograph and analyze over 360 photos of humpback whale tailstocks (the part of a humpback where its tail meets the rest of its body), to help us understand how often humpback whales get entangled in fishing gear in British Columbia. Looking for characteristic types of injuries or scarring on this part of a humpback’s body is a technique pioneered by our colleagues at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, and is very effective in helping us better understand the threat of entanglement to these whales. Our data suggest that humpback whales become entangled in fishing gear much more often than reports from eyewitnesses to entanglement events suggest. We were able to use this information to provide feedback to Fisheries and Oceans Canada about proposed changes to the protection of humpback whales in western Canada.

Entangled humpback whale BCY0710 aka “Twister” (photo by Jared Towers)

We were also able to share the results of our study with the public through presentations, including talks to the Nature Vancouver Marine Biology Section and at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre.

For more information about the threat of entanglement in fishing gear to humpbacks and other whales, please see our humpback whale research page.

BCY0291 aka “KC” (photo by Jackie Hildering)
BCX0565 aka “Nick” (photo by Jackie Hildering)

MERS is also excited to report our first humpback whale sightings of 2012! MERS director Jackie Hildering, thanks to a report from Bill and Donna of MacKay Whale Watching was able to photo-identify two adult humpback whales that are well known in our study area: BCX0565 (aka “Nick”) and BCY0291 (aka “KC”)!

~ Christie and the MERS team

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