By becoming a member of the Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program you will be directly supporting research on wild killer whales. Continuing research will lead to a better understanding of the whales, their place in the ocean ecosystem, and the conservation measures necessary to protect them.



Whale whereabouts…       


Northern residents:

We are happy to report many Northern Resident encounters throughout the Salish Sea in November.  Early on in the month, the members of G clan were heard on hydrophones near Critical Point. Throughout the first half of November, they were heard near Parson Island, Flower Island, and were seen to spend a significant amount of time in Critical Point. They were also seen to be actively foraging at the entrance to Blackney Sound, which is always a great sign! 


Southern residents:

Due to their low population numbers, it is always a delight to hear that the Southern Residents have been spotted. Early in November, a pod of Southern Residents (thought to be the Js) were spotted heading toward Comox, spread across the Strait. They were very active, and were reported to be demonstrating spectacular breaching behaviour. Later in the November by Beaumont Shoal, the L12s were spotted, every member present and accounted for. During the last few days of November, all 78 of the southern residents were spotted between Constance Bank and Dungeness Spit.


Bigg’s (Transients): 

Early in November, some Biggs were heard near Flower Island from on Orca Lab hydrophone. The T123’s were spotted east bound off of Sooke, and they were later spotted passing by the entrance to the Victoria harbour travelling toward Trial Island. The T046C’s were spotted midway in the Juan de Fuca Strait.



December 2014
In this issue

 Whale Update
 Program Update
 Field Updates
 In the News 




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Adoption Program Update....

When a Scented Candle Just Won't do...

jingle bells There is no denying that the holidays are just around the corner, and let’s face it, sometimes for that special someone a gift of a scented candle doesn’t quite cut it! When it comes to gift giving, a truly unique option is to give the gift of a wild killer whale. By adopting a whale you will not only be gifting something that is one of a kind, you will become a key partner in the research effort to learn more and help these majestic and important creatures that live right off our coast. We also have many different options for adoption packages that feature various gifts, so you can choose the one that best suits your very lucky receiver! Be sure to check it out here or give us a call at 604-659-3430.






For questions or comments about what you see in this newsletter please send an email to



Field Notes....

Message in a Bottle 

When out on the water, researchers from the Vancouver Aquarium can never be sure what they are going to find. This was proven when marine mammal research biologist Carla Crossman, along with Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard, came across a very unique sighting a few miles west of Porcher Island in Hecate Strait. This sighting was not the usual findings of a marine animal which they had set out to find, but it was an enigmatic message in a bottle! The glass wine bottle’s cork was covered in gooseneck barnacles which are similar to those found on much of the Japanese tsunami debris that can be found washed up on our coast. This bottle contained a rolled up letter, a USB stick, and a digital copy of the letter. The letter was written in English, Mandarin and Spanish and read, “We don’t know each other, but we are now connected. We would like to know about you - you life, your thoughts, your feelings about this world.


When Carla got in contact with the owner of the bottle, she discovered it was one of 32 bottles set out to sea by a couple in Hong Kong when they were travelling by ship from Vancouver to Hawaii. The couple later managed to visit the Vancouver Aquarium, and meet the researchers at the Marine Mammal Research Program and to complete this face to face connection. This just goes to show that you should keep an eye out when you’re on the water as you never know what you will find.  Whatever it is, we would love to hear about it! 



In the News...

Sad News for Southern Residents

We have received some very unfortunate news from The Centre for Whale research (CWR) in Washington. Based their sightings, it has been confirmed that the Southern Resident baby calf L120 is no longer with its mother, 23-year old Southern Resident known as L86.  L120 was approximately only 7 weeks old. Ken Balcomb, a biologist with the CWR says the calf would be unable to survive without its mother at this young age. This is a particularly devastating loss to this very small population, as there has not been a newborn spotted with them since August of 2012, and their numbers are now down to a concerning 78 members.


These are tragic losses to the Southern Residents, and it is important that we focus on maintaining healthy salmon populations in our waters, as well as working to minimize toxins and acoustic pollution in order to help decrease the dangers to young developing calves, as they are vital to the long term survival of this important group of whales. Killer whales face many challenges for survival, especially a young calf like L120, which generally has an increased chance of mortality. A Southern Resident killer whale’s diet is almost exclusively chinook salmon. As a result of this, the salmon runs are directly related to the success of the killer whale populations. When a salmon run is affected by habitat destruction, excessive harvesting, or dams, the killer whales will suffer as their food supply directly declines. There is also the threat of toxins in the water causing development and immune issues, and acoustic pollution which can result in death for a killer whale. This was seen when L86’s last calf washed up ashore with evidence of severe acoustic trauma in 2012.


Read More: CBC News