BC Whales
Research | Connect | Protect
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Team

 

NORTH COAST CETACEAN SOCIETY (BCWhales)

We are a non-profit whale-research organization dedicated to the research and protection of cetaceans (all whales, dolphins and porpoise) along the northern coast of British Columbia. This project began 18 years ago with two people on a journey to learn about the fall and winter movements of orca. Their arrival in Gitga’at territory coincided with the return of the great humpback and fin whales to B.C waters. With the support and permission of the Gitga'at First Nation of Hartley Bay, NCCS now operates two research stations along the coastal regions that surround the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia. These stations focus on the populations and habitat use of humpback whales, fin whales and orca. Our research includes both land- and boat-based whale surveys, and acoustic monitoring of the area through an underwater hydrophone network. We welcome you to join us to learn what we can about the majestic whale and the importance of habitat that will enable the survival of the gentle giants of the sea.


BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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Janie Wray

It was at the age of nine that I first heard a recording of a family of orcas; instantly I was both captivated and extremely curious. This was my first emotional response to sound, and the inspiration it gave me led to a life-long commitment to understanding the behaviour of whales. After I graduated, my dream was to build a research station in an area where whales thrive and the presence and impact of people are minimal.


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Eric Keen

Eric first began working with BCWhales and the Gitga'at First Nation as a volunteer intern in 2010. He continued with a doctoral thesis project focused on whale foraging ecology, which he conducted as a graduate student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. As a post-doctoral fellow at University of Victoria, he worked with BCwhales in their launch of a new research station Fin Island. He now serves as the Science Co-director for BCwhales and is focused on their visual and aerial survey programs. He teaches at Sewanee: The University of the South, where he works with undergraduate students on data analysis and trains them in field science. He is also a research biologist for the Foundation for Marine Ecology & Telemetry Research.


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Jenn Dickie

Jenn Dickie has spent the past 20 years living and working in coastal British Columbia, as a wilderness guide & educator, operations manager, photographer and volunteer whale researcher. In 2002 she would bring guests from a nearby fishing lodge to the research station on Gil Island to hear about the work NCCS was doing and has remained involved ever since. Jenn has a strong background in photography and design as well as operations management and safety she joined the board of directors in 2018.


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Hayley Shepperd

25 years ago Hayley moved to Canada with a teaching background specializing in Outdoor and Environmental Education. Her first tour of duty was as a research assistant at Orca Lab on Hanson Island in BC, studying Northern Resident Orca. This experience steered Hayley to take on full time work as a wilderness guide and educator where she led people from all over the world into the rich and diverse marine mammal, bear and bird habitat of the BC coast. This work involved operating various vessels, dealing with safety protocols and risk management. With Hayley’s profound interest and care for the diverse wildlife and natural environment of this region, she was thrilled to join the NCCS board of directors in 2018.


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Marvin Robinson

25 years ago Hayley moved to Canada with a teaching background specializing in Outdoor and Environmental Education. Her first tour of duty was as a research assistant at Orca Lab on Hanson Island in BC, studying Northern Resident Orca. This experience steered Hayley to take on full time work as a wilderness guide and educator where she led people from all over the world into the rich and diverse marine mammal, bear and bird habitat of the BC coast. This work involved operating various vessels, dealing with safety protocols and risk management. With Hayley’s profound interest and care for the diverse wildlife and natural environment of this region, she was thrilled to join the NCCS board of directors in 2018.


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Ben Hendricks

Ben finished his PhD in 2015 with a focus on observational astrophysics with a strong skill set in statistical analyses of large data samples, data processing and image manipulation, programming, project planning and project management.

Ben’s part in this project is to develop the software that allows automated detection, classification, localization, and tracking of transient signals of marine mammals from long baseline array data, such as the Squally Channel Hydrophone Array. The software aims to provide the following information to the user in real-time: detect if a whale vocalized, determine when the vocalization happened, classify which whale species vocalized, and compute where it happened.