It has long been a fact that the Marine Education and Research Society needs a vessel upgrade. Prior to 2014, our research and response efforts were largely conducted from our own personal vessels. While suitable for most local work, these vessels often restricted our ability to carry out important work in other areas and during weather that was not perfect.
So, early this year we began doing some research into what our ideal research and response vessel would look like. With increasing concern about the potential of vessel strikes and entanglements of whales, our work plan for 2014 includes intensified research activities off northeastern Vancouver Island and the central BC coast as well as being on call to respond to marine wildlife incidents and emergencies in these areas and beyond. To effectively conduct this work we needed a boat that was seaworthy, fast and capable of carrying a lot of equipment.
After a lot of research and discussion about what type of vessel would best suit our needs we decided that a rigid-hull inflatable would be the most practical and versatile type of boat for conducting research and marine wildlife response in BC.
Thanks to a contribution from Mountain Equipment Co-op and some recognition for the importance of our work from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada we were able to acquire a 24 foot Zodiac Hurricane. This vessel was at one time used as a fast response craft by the federal government but when its mother ship was retired it prematurely followed suit until new work could be found for it.
We took possession of the boat in early May and over the last two months have been setting it up for MERS research and response. Sea trials proved that it will service our needs well. There are only 2 things left to do.
- Continue to acquire the support needed to ensure that we put this vessel to good use.
We plan on leaving both of these things up to you. If you’d like to make any suggestions for a boat name please do so here. Whoever chooses the winning name will, in addition to the glory, receive a free MERS “Sponsor a Humpback Whale” package. The contest will run until July 31st. Selection of the name will be undertaken by MERS directors and the winner will be announced on our Facebook site during the first week of August.
Also, please consider supporting our work with a financial donation or even just a “like” on Facebook. Your involvement in the work of MERS goes a long way towards helping us promote conservation and understanding of marine ecosystems through scientific research, environmental education, and marine wildlife response.