We realized very quickly that if you want to study whales you need to listen in to their world. For this reason we installed a network of hydrophone stations from Douglas Channel to Caamano Sound ranging from 3 to 30 km from the research facility,
During the summer of 2017, we performed an abundance study on humpback whale, fin whale, and orca populations along the northern coast of BC. Special effort was directed towards humpback whale bubble-net feeding behaviour,.
In collaboration with other whale research groups in British Columbia, we are building a coast-wide identification catalogue for humpback whales. This project will enable us to understand the broader picture in regards to habitat use and social relationships of humpback whales.
From its small perch on Fin Island, this new research camp (established in 2017) overlooks many things at once: the most active whale areas in British Columbia's fjordland, Squally Channel, a proposed LNG shipping lane, as well as the hydrophone network at the center of the SWAG project (Ships, Whales, Acoustics in Gitga'at Territory).
In 2008 Cetacea Lab installed a hydrophone just off of the Wall Islets, two small islands located south of Gil Island. Shortly thereafter it was apparent from the amount of acoustic activity we were detecting, that the Wall Islets were perfectly placed on the edge of an orca highway and a hot-spot for humpback whale bubble-net feeding.
In 2001, NCCS, with permission of the Gitga’at First Nation of Hartley Bay, built a land-based whale research facility, Cetacea Lab, in their territory on the southern end of Gil Island. The purpose of this research facility is to document surrounding cetacean habitat use, foraging and social behaviour.