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 year round, as well as educate coastal communities, tourists and seasonal fishing lodges about whale behaviour and proper marine vessel protocol in the presence of whales.

Acoustic Monitoring

In conjunction with shore-based monitoring and the urgent need to study the acoustic communication of various cetacean species, we also measure ocean noise levels and examine the effects of this noise on cetaceans using a hydrophone network that monitors all whale acoustic and marine vessel activity from Caamano Sound to the Kitimat Fjord System. Each hydrophone station transmits the sounds of the surrounding marine habitat to Cetacea Lab. All acoustic information is recorded and identified to species by Hermann Meuter and Janie Wray who specialize in cetacean vocal behaviour.

Cetacea Lab Hydrophone Network

Cetacea Lab Hydrophone Network

To learn more about how whales vocalize to communicate and search for prey, follow the link below.


From April through October, we actively monitor the area surrounding Cetacea Lab for orca, humpback and fin whale abundance, social and foraging behaviour.