Marine Education & Research Society Auction 2021
The online auction is directed at covering Marine Education and Research Society operating costs.
Below is a list of some of the work we accomplished in the last year with less than 3 full-time positions. We hope this summary reflects how efficient and productive an organization MERS strives to be. This is possible through the support of many and, while we have been successful in achieving funding for some of our work, it remains challenging to cover operating costs.
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Highlights of work achieved by MERS in the last year
Educational and Outreach
Adapting to the necessity for online, virtual education, including:
- Delivering 16 webinars aimed at reducing risks to whales and further marine life, reaching 770+ people in coastal BC;
- Teaching a online Marine Mammal Naturalist Course (24 hours of instruction over 4 weeks);
- Conducting live Q & A marine education sessions on social media;
- Creating video shorts to support boater education e.g. “What Every Boater Should Know: The Flags”; and
- Developing a standalone boater education resource supported by video to increase knowledge of the Marine Mammal Regulations and best practices regarding vessel operation around marine mammals.
- Strategic positioning of 102 additional “See a Blow? Go Slow!” signs to educate boaters on how to reduce risk to whales for a total of more than 350 signs now posted on British Columbia’s coast (see map at this link);
- Coordinating an initiative focused on incorporating Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations into both Transport Canada’s and the Canadian Power Squadron's boater courses;
- Promoting and distributing Whale Warning Flags;
- Creating an educational member-only online resource for our Humpback Whale sponsors; and
- In development: animations to raise awareness about, and reduce, marine debris.
- Over 1,400 database entries for sightings of Humpbacks in 2020 with an additional 1,000+ entries for sightings from previous years;
- Further data collection and analysis of scars on Humpback Whales that indicate they have survived entanglement(s) and drafting a manuscript focused on the scope of this threat to Humpbacks in BC waters for publication (work conducted in collaboration with DFO);
- Continued data collection for Humpback Whale population studies and feeding strategy research;
- Coordinating the efforts of those studying Humpback Whales off the coast of British Columbia to consolidate data sets and develop a Province-wide Humpback Whale catalogue to enable further research collaboration;
- Conducting multi-species marine mammal surveys to inform seasonal and annual changes in distribution;
- Compiling Mola / Ocean Sunfish sightings to support a study into species distribution off the coast of British Columbia; and
- Addition of Humpback Whale mouth ID photos to our cataloguing efforts, to allow identification of trap-feeding whales by their distinctive mouth markings.
Marine Mammal Rescue and Response
- 9.5 days of monitoring commercial fisheries overlapping with areas of high whale density, to improve reporting of incidents and to respond, or provide support to rescue efforts, when needed;
- 5.5 days of support for whale entanglement response by coordinating and undertaking search efforts for known entangled Humpback Whales;
- Communication / coordination for 23 marine mammal incidents, ranging from violations of the Marine Mammal Regulations to marine mammal entanglement; and
- Submitting a request for assessment of Sunflower Stars to the Committee on the Status of Wildlife in Canada.
- Hiring our second full-time employee, Chloe Warren, enabled by funding through ECO Canada.
About Marine Education & Research Society (MERS)
The Marine Education and Research Society is a registered Canadian charity working to reduce threats to marine mammals through research, education and response. Our efforts date back to 2004. We are based on NE Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CANADA, in the Territory of the Kwakwala-speaking Peoples.