MERS needs a new boat! Among our study species is the threatened humpback whale. Over the last decade humpbacks have begun to recover from overhunting that occurred in previous centuries. As a result, these whales can now regularly be found during summer and fall in most coastal waters of BC. During these seasons, coastal waters are also busy with shipping traffic, commercial and recreational fisheries as well as eco-tourism activities. Consequently, each year an increasing number of whales suffer from vessel strikes and entanglements in fishing gear. To date, several of these incidents have been fatal for whales and have hospitalized more than one person.
MERS on-water research efforts have documented several of these incidents and collected data necessary for making management decisions aimed at protecting both humans and threatened whale populations. Additionally, our on the water response efforts have helped save the lives of several species of marine wildlife including the threatened humpback whale.
So far, MERS research and response efforts have been conducted from two small vessels privately owned by MERS directors. Both vessels are in marginal condition, have limited fuel capacity and due to their small size can only be safely operated in ideal wind and sea conditions. To effectively research and respond to a greater number of reports of threatened marine wildlife in British Columbia we require a strong, seaworthy fiberglass vessel 20-24 feet in length that is equipped with one or two outboard engines, a trailer and all necessary navigation and safety equipment.
This vessel upgrade will increase the Marine Education and Research Society’s capacity to conduct research and response activities. It will increase the geographic area and range of weather conditions in which we can safely operate. It will also allow MERS to respond to more wildlife in distress, while collecting data required for the effective management of threats to their populations. A vessel upgrade will also provide increased opportunities for education and stewardship within our community. Having a safe research and response platform with adequate space will allow MERS to provide opportunities and training for students, coastal community members, and other volunteers.
If this sounds like a positive initiative to you please consider spreading the word or making a financial donation to this cause. Alternatively, if you have a suitable boat that you’d be willing to donate please contact us.