Studying killer whales in the wild is expensive work. Transportation, equipment costs, boat maintenance and fuel are just some of the many daily costs faced by researchers in the field. By taking out a membership in the Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program, you’ll help defray these costs and become a key partner in the killer whale research effort.


Visiting Scientist

In 2007 the Vancouver Aquarium, with support from the Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program, created a “visiting scientist” position to allow researchers on study leave from their parent institutions to join the team in the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Research Lab. This new program provides a unique opportunity for researchers to expand their contacts and collaborate with other Canadian researchers. 

This position is ideal for an established cetacean researcher on study leave from his or her institution wanting focused time for analysis and writing, needing a base while conducting field-based research in the region, or wishing to conduct studies at the Aquarium. The unpaid position is generally 6-12 months long.  The Wild Killer Whale Adoption Program provides funding for travel and some supplies and accommodation assistance for Visiting Scientists.


Past Visiting Researchers

Dr. Christophe Guinet, a Senior Biologist from the Centre for Biological Studies at Chize in France, joined the Marine Mammal Research team for 5 months in 2014. He was excited to visit Vancouver to work alongside his long-term collaborators, our own Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard and Dr. Andrew Trites at the University of British Columbia. Guinet’s research focuses primarily on killer whales off the Crozet Islands in the southern Indian Ocean where there is a large fishery for Patagonian toothfish.  Killer whales there are known depredators, meaning they take fish directly from the fisher’s lines.  The level of interaction between whales and the fishery is huge and the consequences to the whales have been quite dire.  To read more about Guinet’s work see the 2014 issue of the Blackfish Sounder (p.6).


Renowned Russian researcher Dr. Olga Filatova from the University of Moscow joined us from November 2008 to March 2009.  Filatova studies the dialects and vocal behavior of resident and transient type killer whales in Kamchatka, Russia.  Interestingly, she and her colleagues discovered that the resident killer whales in Kamchatka bear many similarities to residents of BC and Alaska coasts.  Filatova collaborated with Canadian researchers to learn more about the similarities and differences between the populations of killer whales on both sides of the North Pacific.




Robert Michaud, founding director of the Quebec-based Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM), joined the team for 10 months in 2007/2008.  Michaud has been studying the beluga whale population in the St. Lawrence River for 25 years.  He joined the Aquarium team to spend time analyzing demographic data collected from his study site in Quebec and collaborate with Dr. Lance Barret-Lennard and PhD candidate Valeria Vergara on beluga acoustics.