Gifts With Depth – 2020

At this time of year when, in particular, gifts and donations are being considered, we’d like to highlight the ways your giving ALSO contributes to ocean conservation.

Please click this link for a summary of what we have been able to achieve in 2020 despite you-know-what.. We want you to know how far your contributions go to reduce threats to whales and that we could not have achieved this work without the support of those who know the value of what we do.

All contributions directly support our research, education, and marine wildlife response activities. Below are 5 ways to support our work with meaningful gifts for loved ones:

  1. Sustainable Gifts From Our Ocean Store (gift cards available) 
  2. Honorary Donations
  3. Humpback Whale Sponsorships
  4. “See a Blow? Go Slow!” Sign Dedications
  5. Warning Flags
Handmade salmon lamp available in our online store.

1. Gifts From Our Ocean Store

Our online Ocean Store is full of a wide-variety of marine-themed, sustainable, high-quality items. 
We offer worldwide shipping and local, contactless pick-up in Port McNeill.

From books to clothing, our Ocean Store is the ideal place to find eco-friendly gifts that support our marine conservation efforts and local artists and businesses. Please click here to see all the GOODS in the Ocean Store.

Click here for the direct link to gift cards for the Ocean Store. 

Handmade plush seals looking for a home via our Ocean Store.

2. Honorary Donations

MERS is a registered Canadian charity. Any donations over $25 are tax deductible.

When you indicate your donation to MERS is a gift, we’ll send your giftee a message revealing your thoughtfulness and what work the donation supports.

Please know that monthly donations  are especially valuable. These reoccurring donations make for reliable income thereby allowing more effective planning and budgeting. They also offer the ability to indicate in-kind support when applying for grants. Please click here to access the form below. 

3. Humpback Whale Sponsorships

For just $60 you can sponsor a Humpback Whale and help support our work. Sponsorship packages includes a card featuring a photograph of the whale; a large, durable, eco-friendly sticker of the sponsored whale’s tail; and web access to the sponsor-exclusive MERS Humpback Whale Sponsorship Hub for a year.

The Sponsorship Hub includes a biography of your sponsored whale with lots of photos, updates on sightings, and more exclusive content such as Humpback Whale vocals recorded off northern Vancouver Island. 

When you purchase the sponsorship as a gift, both you AND the giftee receive access to the Sponsorship Hub. You will also be able to personalize the letter that accompanies the sponsorship package to your loved one.

Please click here for more information on whale sponsorship. If applicable, be sure to indicate if the sponsorship is a gift during checkout. Annual sponsorship renewals are $50.

Humpbacks available for sponsorship are: Twister, Argonaut, Slash, Moonstar and KC.
Jack and Tristan are pretty happy about their sponsorships of KC and Twister.

4. “See a Blow? Go Slow!” Signs

“See a Blow? Go Slow!” signs  are essential for whale and boater safety and are a cornerstone of our campaign to reduce risk of collision for whales and boaters

A $50 donation sponsors a sign with dedication text for your gift recipient. A tax receipt is available. 

Please see this link for more information, includes a map of where signs have been positioned and how to sponsor a “See a Blow! Go Slow!” sign as a gift. 💙

Signs are made of durable dibond with dimensions 18.5″ x 24″ (~47 cm x 61 cm). Dedication text on this sign is: “This sign sponsored by Sanne Hessing and dedicated to my Dad, with whom I can wait and watch whales for hours. 
Thank you for your endless love and support.”

5. Whale Warning Flags

The Whale Warning Flag is an initiative of the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association and is used by those striving to help the whales along the BC and Washington coast.

The flags are raised on vessels when whales are within 400 m. The aim is to alert other boaters to the presence of whales, so they know to increase vigilance, adjust their vessel’s speed and alter course as needed, in accordance with the Marine Mammal Regulations.

It’s a perfect gift for any boater that spends time in these waters. Two flag sizes are available, at $35 or $55. We do not benefit financially from these flags (we sell them at cost) but you are helping our efforts by helping the whales. Please click here for the Whale Warning Flags. 

With great thanks to you for considering
these Gifts With Depth. 

Any questions? Please contact us via this link. 

We’re so grateful for all those who are whaleful. ☺️

Gifts With Depth

 Please see this link for a summary of what we have been able to achieve in 2019  in our work to reduce risks to whales.  

We could not have achieved this without the support of those who believe in us and the value of the work.  It’s that simple.

With this being a time of year when, in particular, gifts and donations are being considered, below we provide 4 ways through which your support also leads to meaningful gifts for loved ones. 

  1. Honorary donation
  2. Sponsor a Humpback Whale
  3. Sponsor a sign to reduce risk to whales
  4. Select gifts from our Ocean Store

1. Honorary Donation

MERS is a registered Canadian charity whereby donations are tax deductible. When you indicate your donation to MERS is  a gift, we’ll send your giftee a message revealing your thoughtfulness and what work the donation supports. 

Please know that monthly donations (click here) are especially valuable. These reoccurring donations are reliable income thereby allowing more effective planning and budgeting and being able to indicate in-kind support when applying for grants. 

All contributions directly support our research, education, and marine wildlife response activities.

2. Sponsor a Humpback Whale 

For just $48 we will send a Humpback Whale sponsorship package with a personalized message to the gift recipient. The package includes a card featuring a photo of your chosen whale; a USB stick with a biography of your whale with photos and recordings of Humpback vocals; AND you and the giftee will receive at least two email updates every year about the sponsored whale.
Click here for details and during checkout indicate that the sponsorship is a gift. We will then contact you about personalizing the letter that accompanies the sponsorship package.

Sponsorship whales are KC, Twister, Slash, Moonstar and Argonaut.

3. Sponsor a Sign

“See a Blow? Go Slow!” signs are needed all along BC’s coast. Over 100 signs have already been positioned but many more are needed. The signs are essential for both whale and boater safety.  Please see the example below. 

Signs costs approximately $70 each  (price depends on shipping costs) and the sign would include dedication text for your gift recipient (or the logo of your choosing). 

For signs with dedications, a donation can be given in the amount of the sign’s value leading to your getting a tax receipt. See below and contact to discuss dedication and confirm price. Signs are made of durable dibond with dimensions 18.5″ x 24″ (~47 cm x 61 cm).

4. Select Gifts from Our Ocean Store

The Ocean Store also serves as our office space in Port McNeill, BC. The sustainable, local and marine-themed goods are also available at our online store at this link. 

It’s the ideal place for gifts that support local marine research, education and conservation (and local artists and businesses). 

Examples of items available at the online store.

With great thanks to you for any consideration you
can give these gifts with depth. 

Any questions? Please contact us via this link. 

Which Whale Will it Be?

[Update April 11, 2016: It’s Argonaut! Argonaut will be the next whale in our Humpback Sponsorship Program! Great thanks to all who provided their input. We will have Argonaut sponsorship packages available by mid-May.]

Which whale will it be? You decide!

We’re adding a Humpback Whale to our Marine Education and Research Society sponsorship program. Conger? Guardian? Freckles? Argonaut? All four of these Humpbacks are very regularly seen around NE Vancouver Island. Please see their photos and details below and provide your choice via a comment on this blog.

The whale that gets the most blog comments and “likes” on the related post on Facebook by April 11th will be the one added to the choices at

(Psst MERS Humpback Whale sponsorship packages are just $43, benefitting so many Humpbacks since the funds support our work to reduce the threats of entanglement and vessel strike to whales in BC.)
which whale MERS sponsorship program.002

Conger (BCY0728) has been sighted around NE Vancouver Island every year since 2009. The nickname is due to what was perceived to be an eel-like shape on the right side of his/her fluke (fainter now). Conger is the first whale we documented “trap feeding”. This is a novel feeding technique being studies by MERS that appears to be used to efficiently feed on small, diffuse schools of juvenile herring. Conger is unique in that he often flukes his tail on every dive where most Humpback Whales will only fluke every 5 to 8 dives when they go on a longer dive. Conger has also been documented pursuing mammal-hunting Killer Whales (known as “Transients” or “Bigg’s Killer Whales)! Yes, that’s right PURSUING Killer Whales.
which whale MERS sponsorship program.001Guardian (BCZuk2011#4) is easily identified by her very white fluke with distinct black pattern and her hooked dorsal fin. If lucky enough to see her lunge feeding at the surface, it’s spectacular! She most often rockets out of the water vertically where most Humpbacks have more of a horizontal lunge through herring. And yes, we know Guardian is female from having seen her underside while she was tail lobbing. She’s been known to us at MERS since 2011 and who knows, this year she could return with her first known calf. Guardian had a very scary encounter with a log barge in 2015. See the video at this link. 
which whale MERS sponsorship program.003We’ve known Argonaut (BCY0729) since 2009 and s/he may be the Humpback Whale seen most predictably around NE Vancouver Island. We documented over 150 sightings of Argonaut in 2015 alone, most often within 1 km of Telegraph Cove. This makes this Humpback quite the ambassador for his/her kind, having been observed by thousands of whale watchers from around the world. You’ll note the distinct black A-shaped marking on the left side of fluke that is, in part, what inspired Argonaut’s nickname. There is also a connection to someone named Jason i.e. the association is with “Jason and the Argonauts” of Greek mythology.
which whale MERS sponsorship program.004

Freckles (BCY0727) was first documented in BC waters in 2009 when she appeared just outside Telegraph Cove. She certainly got our attention as she had such distinct white coloured, freckle-like markings. These pigmentation spots have faded since then but still make Freckles very easy to identify even when she doesn’t lift her tail for a dive. While Freckles is not yet known to have had a calf, we know she is female because we saw her “hemispherical lobe” when she was tail-lobbing. Only females have this mound on the underside of their bodies. In addition to lunge feeding, we have seen her use a bubble-net to concentrate small fish and she also knows how to trap feed. We know of at least two cases when she has been harassed by mammal-hunting Killer Whales.

Be sure to leave a comment indicating your choice for which whale will be added to the MERS Humpback Whale Sponsorship Program! Deadline is April 11th.