Dear BCGA Members,
The BC Cetacean Sightings Network was established in 1999 in partnership with Ocean Wise and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. So far, we have collected 103,000 reports of cetaceans and sea turtles from over 6,000 coastal residents. Sightings data are not only used for conservation-based research within our own organization, but are also shared with government agencies, universities, and ENGOs for critical habitat analyses, the establishment of marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments, and more! Having coastal citizens act as our eyes on the water is helping us to better understand the abundance, distribution, and habitat use of BC’s threatened and endangered cetaceans. Much of this data would not be recorded without volunteer observers-so the more participation in the program, the better.
We have created aerial cetacean ID guides to help with identification. It is a small flipbook that contains the most commonly spotted cetacean species and what they look like when viewed from air. I’ve also contained some information about what to do if they spot a deceased whale. There are a number of ways that pilots can report their sightings to us (via our WhaleReport app, through our webform at wildwhales.org, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling us at 1-866-I SAW ONE). We do not require real-time sightings, so pilots can just make a quick note while they are flying and then report their sightings at their convenience.
I have a few commercial companies involved (Nootka Air, Sunshine Coast Air, Atelo River Air, Inland Air), and am sending the guides to both the Nanaimo and Victoria Flying Club. We are mostly targeting float planes, as they fly low enough to be able to spot cetaceans easily. Please let me know if you have any ideas of who to contact or if you would be able to help get some pilots involved.
Coordinator, BC Cetacean Sightings Network