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27-Jan: Where are the Whales? Monitoring and protecting Cetaceans through Citizen Science

Our 2018 Speaker Series began on Saturday, 27 January, with a presentation by Jessica Torode about the BC Cetaceans Sighting Network. We learned how to identify the different species of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in BC waters, the threats these animals face, and what we can do to help the Network with its mission.

There are 23 species of cetaceans and 4 species of sea turtles that spend time off the coast of BC, and 12 of these populations are listed as “at risk”. More research is needed to monitor and protect these vulnerable animals, but BC’s vast coastline makes regular scientific surveys financially and logistically challenging. The BC Cetaceans Sighting Network was created to encourage citizen scientists to assist in this research. For over 17 years, the monitoring data collected has been used in conservation-based research, including environmental impact assessments, critical habitat analysis, and the establishment of marine protected areas.

About Jessica Torode

Jessica is the coordinator of the BC Cetacean Sightings Network. She was born and raised in West Vancouver and was inspired to pursue a career in marine biology after many summer boating trips in Desolation Sound. After graduation from the University of Victoria in 2009, she completed a training and research internship at the Vancouver Aquarium, and then went on to work at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. In 2013, Jessica studied the effects of commercial fishing on the diet and body condition of harbour porpoises in Scotland. She completed her Masters Degree in Marine and Fisheries Ecology in September 2014.