The Cetus Research & Conservation Society: What We Do
~ by Marie Fournier, Cetus Staff member
The Cetus Research & Conservation Society is a non-profit society originally based in Alert Bay, B.C. and more recently in Victoria B.C. Formed in 2005, Cetusâ€™ mission is to facilitate the conservation of the marine environment by promoting community stewardship, raising public awareness, conducting research & fostering activities that directly preserve marine habitats and biological diversity.
Cetus works to facilitate the recovery of endangered and threatened cetacean species off the coast of British Columbia, and specifically around Vancouver Island. This is accomplished by specifically dealing with the impact of vessel traffic on cetaceans.
Kayakers Crowding Orcas
Cetus works to minimize the potential disturbance by vessel traffic of orca and other marine wildlife by:
- Promoting the Be Whale Wise (BWW) Marine Wildlife Viewing Guidelines;
- Monitoring vessel activity in the vicinity of marine wildlife;
- Educating boaters about current ecological issues affecting marine wildlife locally and globally; and,
- Involving communities and individuals in developing and carrying out the program.
By increasing awareness of the threats marine mammals face, such as habitat degradation, decreased food availability, increasing underwater noise and contaminant levels, we encourage boaters to modify their behaviour to reduce their impact on these species.
photo: Graeme Ellis – Orca with fresh propeller scars
Cetus operates two marine stewardship programs: Straitwatch and the Robson Bight Marine Warden Program (RBMWP). Straitwatch provides on-the-water education to boaters about the Be Whale Wise (BWW) marine viewing guidelines. The program also distributes BWW pamphlets around Vancouver Island, provides marine-based and dockside interpretive talks, and conducts evening presentations at campgrounds and within communities. In addition to education about guidelines, Straitwatch also delivers presentations and training workshops about local species at risk and their conservation concerns.
Straitwatch targets boaters both before and while they are on the water; delivering information about marine species at risk and how to operate their vessels to reduce their impacts on these species. Furthermore, Straitwatch staff monitor human activities around marine mammals and report incidents that contravene the BWW guidelines to Fisheries Officers in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). Monitoring data are collected in such a way that whale watching behaviour and its associated impacts can be compared from year to year, region by region, and sector by sector.
Vessel Too Close to Orcas
Similarly, the RBMWP conducts stewardship, education and monitoring activities. This program is contracted through the BC Parks at the Robson Bight (Michael Bigg) Ecological Reserve (RBMBER). Marine wardens promote stewardship of the Ecological Reserve by educating mariners about the importance of observing the boundaries of the reserve and the importance of the reserve as critical habitat for northern resident killer whales. Additionally, the Warden Program monitors whale and vessel activity in the vicinity of the Ecological Reserve on a cliff top, aka Eagle Eye, to measure impact of vessels over time and by marine sector (commercial, recreational, government, etc.).
We are a very dedicated and passionate group of people and enjoy educating the public. Please feel free to come by our office in Alert Bay (on the government dock) or pull up to one of our vessels when you see us on the water. We would love to chat with you!
Check out the Cetus website for more information: http://cetussociety.org/
Also check out the blog and facebook pages for up to date information: