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....

We’ve had a lot of sightings of many of the whales in the adoption program over the past couple months. Here is a brief glimpse into where some of the whales have been!

Northern Residents

The northern residents are still spending a lot of their time in more remote waters and our sightings reports of them are increasing as the season progresses and as more people are on the water along the entire coast. In early June, Kaikash (A46) was seen travelling with the A34 matriline near Hartley Bay on the BC Central Coast. On July 9, the A42s led by matriarch Sonora (A42), were seen near Kitimat. 

Southern Residents

At the beginning of June, members of J-Pod, including Princess Angeline (J17), Echo (J42), Slick (J16) and her newest calf J50, were spotted off Stuart Island and travelled north to Active Pass. A few days later, we heard Nigel (L95) and other members of L-Pod were near San Juan Island. On June 9, it appears these groups met up in Haro Strait where Blackberry (J27) and Nigel (L95)’s large male dorsal fins were clearly visible amongst the other whales. Members of J-Pod travelled past Victoria in mid-June with the K14s – Lea (K14), Lobo (K26), Yoda (K36) and Kelp (K42).

The young calves in J-pod appear to be thriving and Eclipse (J41) and her young male calf J51 were spotted on Canada Day – July 1 – off the shores of Long Island. Just under a week later the few southern residents that had yet to been seen this year were sighted off the west coast of San Juan Island – including Racer (L72) and Fluke (L105). 


Bigg's (Transients) 

Those Bigg’s killer whales have been busy hunting and there have been lots of reported seal kills from all along the coast. In mid-June, Sidney (T123) was seen off the shore of her namesake Sidney! She was travelling with her two offspring Stanley (T123A) and Lucky (T123C) and 

the T65 group. Meanwhile, the T2Cs were seen travelling westbound in Johnst

one Strait. The day after making an appearance in Vancouver, the T65As were spotted just north of Texada Island. In early July, we had reports again of the T2Cs – including Tasu (T2C), and her three offspring Rocky (T2C1), Tumbo (T2C2) and Lucy (T2C3) - who this time, were off Hernando Island.



Program Update


Now it’s easier than ever to tell let researchers know when you’ve spotted a killer whale – or any cetacean for that matter! The BC Cetacean Sightings Network (BCCSN) was just added a free mobile app called WhaleReport to the list of platforms they use to collect sightings.

The B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network is a network of over 4,300 observers across British Columbia, ranging from whale watching operators, lighthouse keepers, researchers, or even recreational boaters. They work to both gather data on the occurrence of whales, dolphins and porpoises in BC waters and to educate boaters and coastal citizens about the threats these species face. These data can be used to understand changing distributions of populations over time, threats faced by different species etc. and data can also be requested for use in other conservation projects. Throughout the year the BCCSN presents to thousands of British Columbians at schools, community groups, professional associations and festivals.

The goal of the BCCSN is to increase public awareness of British Columbia’s whales, dolphins, and the threats to their survival. If you see a dolphin, whale or porpoise in B.C. let them know using the new app WhaleReport (free from the Google Play and iTunes Stores), by calling toll-free (1-866-I-SAW-ONE or 1-866-472-9663), or by visiting their website



Field Notes....

Summer Field Season is upon us

A spontaneous visit from Bigg’s killer whales in Vancouver Harbour on June 22 gave Dr. Lance Barrett- Lennard and his team a chance to warm up the research vessel Skana. By the end of this week, Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard, head of our Marine Mammal Research Program will be heading up the coast with research biologist and KWAP Coordinator Carla Crossman to begin our 10-12 week field season. Traditionally, our field work has been concentrated on the central coast in the waters surrounding B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest. Last year we shook things up and plan to do the same this year by kicking off the field season with a cetacean survey on the North Coast. We will be looking for not only killer whales, but recording all sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises to better understand a less travelled area on our coast where cetaceans are facing an increasing number of threats. With our fingers crossed for good weather, we are hoping for a lot of great encounters.

The rest of our field season will be dedicated to killer whales! Last summer we piloted a project aimed at assessing the nutritional status of northern resident killer whales using images taken overhead by an unmanned aerial vehicle or a UAV. This collaborative project was a huge success and offers a very non-invasive approach to understanding body condition of individual whales that is not available using traditional boat-based photographs. Read more about last year’s project here. This season, our projects will span the whole BC coast as we expand our photogrammetry project southward to include both Northern and Southern Residents whales.


In the News...

Killer whales in Burrard Inlet – AGAIN!

For the third time in 2015, Bigg’s killer whales made a visit to Vancouver! This time, it was the T65A group on June 22. Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard was keen to identify these whales and set off on our research vessel to take some photographs. Check out a few pictures of our encounter with the five whales in the T65A group!

Read More: Global News

Read More: CTV News

Read More: Vancity Buzz


A family reunion – Great News about Sam (T46C2)

Many of you might recall the story of a young Bigg’s killer whale named Sam (T46C2) from the 2013 issue of the Blackfish Sounder. In 2013, Sam became separated from his/her family and was found alone in a small bay on Aristazabal Island on July 23. For nearly three weeks, Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard and members of his team, along with researchers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Raincoast Conservation Foundation kept a close watch over Sam while his/her health deteriorated and came up with a plan to encourage him/her out of the bay. On August 15, 2013, researchers played Bigg’s killer whale calls just outside the mouth of the bay, meanwhile a floating line was tethered between two boats and towed slowly toward the bay’s entrance. Killer whales are notorious for not wanting to swim under unknown objects, and with the incentive of Bigg’s calls in the distance, Sam shot right out of the bay, porpoising once beside the Aquarium’s research vessel Skana, as he/she left the area.  Sam was seen a few times since, travelling on his own or with other groups of Bigg’s killer whales.

The best news of all came this past week, when we heard Sam was sighted by DFO researchers just off Nanaimo, swimming with his/her family! It appears to be a successful family reunion and this is exactly what everyone had ultimately hoped for with Sam’s rescue!



Photo Credit: Brianna Wright/DFO

For the full story, Click Here!

Read more: Global News

July 2015
In this issue

 Whale Update
 Field Notes
 In the News 




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