What a year it’s been!
Below we report on what we have achieved to date in 2020 despite you-know-what. We want you to know how far your contributions go to reduce threats to marine life and that we could not have succeeded without the support of those united in knowing the value of this work.
We’re very grateful for what you have done to make this possible, be it by contributing data; sharing our educational messaging; making tax-deductible donations; sponsoring whales; helping with signage to reduce threats to whales and boaters; flying the Whale Warning Flag; educating yourself about reducing threats to marine life; and/or purchasing sustainable goods from our online Ocean Store.
Hoping it is of use, we have summarized how meaningful end-of-year giving supports our work at this link. Candidly, we have a budget shortfall due to not being able to have our Courses nor our annual fund-raising trip.
Wishing you health, happiness and a world of whales,
The MERS Team
Highlights of work achieved in 2020
Educational and Outreach
- Adapting to the necessity for online, virtual education, including:
- Delivering 16 webinars aimed at reducing risks to whales and further marine life, reaching 770+ people in coastal BC;
- Conducting live Q & A marine education sessions on social media;
- Creating video shorts to support boater education e.g.“What Every Boater Should Know: The Flags”; and
- Developing a standalone boater education resource supported by video to increase knowledge of the Marine Mammal Regulations and best practices regarding vessel operation around marine mammals.
- Strategic positioning of 102 additional “See a Blow? Go Slow!” signs to educate boaters on how to reduce risk to whales for a total of more than 350 signs now posted on British Columbia’s coast (see map at this link);
- Coordinating an initiative focused on incorporating Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations into both Transport Canada’s and the Canadian Power Squadron’s boater courses;
- Promoting and distributing Whale Warning Flags;
- Creating an educational member-only online resource for our Humpback Whale sponsors; and
- In development: animations to raise awareness of, and reduce, marine debris.
- Over 1,400 database entries for sightings of Humpbacks in 2020 with an additional 1,000+ entries for sightings from previous years;
- Further data collection and analysis of scars on Humpback Whales that indicate they have survived entanglement(s) and drafting a manuscript focused on the scope of this threat to Humpbacks in BC waters for publication (work conducted in collaboration with DFO);
- Continued data collection for Humpback Whale population studies and feeding strategy research;
- Coordinating the efforts of those studying Humpback Whales off the coast of British Columbia to consolidate data sets and develop a Province-wide Humpback Whale catalogue to enable further research collaboration;
- Conducting multi-species marine mammal surveys to inform seasonal and annual changes in distribution;
- Compiling Mola / Ocean Sunfish sightings to support a study into species distribution off the coast of British Columbia; and
- Addition of Humpback Whale mouth ID photos to our cataloguing efforts, to allow identification of trap-feeding whales by their distinctive mouth markings.
Marine Mammal Rescue and Response
- 9.5 days of monitoring commercial fisheries overlapping with areas of high whale density, to improve reporting of incidents and to respond, or provide support to rescue efforts, when needed;
- 5.5 days of support for whale entanglement response by coordinating and undertaking search efforts for known entangled Humpback Whales; and
- Communication / coordination for 23 marine mammal incidents, ranging from violations of the Marine Mammal Regulations to marine mammal entanglement.
- Hiring our second full-time employee, Chloe Warren, enabled by funding through ECO Canada.