In 2012, Saturna Island residents became concerned about some trends on the island, including fears of economic and environmental degradation. Local residents organized a brainstorming session to openly address concerns and look for solutions that would be supported by the community. A group of seven Saturna residents took up the challenge of preserving our marine ecology, and Saturna Island Marine Research and Education Society (SIMRES) was formed. Funds were raised for the start-up and SIMRES began the process of becoming a non-profit society.
• The next year, the directors of SIMRES helped organize the Moby Doll Orca Symposium on Saturna Island. The event attracted several top whale researchers to Saturna and new relationships were forged.
• In 2013, we started our SeaTalks program, inviting experts to the island to talk about their research on marine topics. Our first presenter was Caitlin Birdsall of BC Cetacean Sightings Network – WildWhales. Since that time we have had more than 50 presenters share their knowledge and research with us.
• In July 2013, we held our first Intertidal Safari in cooperation with Marine Life Sanctuary Society (MLSS). This became an annual event held every July on National Parks Day.
• In 2013/14, funds were raised in our community for the installation of 3 hydrophones in Boundary Pass. With the assistance of Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), the hydrophones became a backbone for underwater sound and orca research on Saturna.
• In 2014, another whale researcher meeting was held on Saturna in conjunction with a SeaTalk by Dr. Paul Spong and Erich Hoyt.
• The same year, Kristen Kanes of the University of Victoria (UVic), led a research project on Saturna Island tracking Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKWs). The project, supported by SIMRES, used data generated by the hydrophones.
• In 2014, we teamed up with Subeye Technologies to install a test underwater camera, allowing us to watch countless hours of sea urchins and rockfish moving on the bottom of the seafloor.
• In 2015, SIMRES organized an event called The Sea Among Us, attracting researchers from our region for a discussion about the challenges faced in the Salish Sea.
• In 2015, SIMRES received the Islands Trust Community Stewardship Award, for our work in marine research and education.
• In 2018/19, another UVic/Coastal and Ocean Resource Analysis Laboratory (CORAL) orca research project was hosted on Saturna with Dr. Lauren McWhinnie.
• In 2019, the plight of the Southern Resident Killer Whales intensified and SIMRES responded by hosting an event, #For the Whales, to bring awareness about the actions citizens we can take to protect these beloved orcas.
• Throughout this time, SIMRES coordinated annual sailboat visits by UVic students in Dr. Natalie Ban’s environmental class, along with students from the Saturna Ecological Education Centre (SEEC).
• We rolled the annual Saturna Christmas Bird Count into the SIMRES calendar, exhibited at the Vancouver Boat Show and participated in the largest community-based event on Saturna—the annual July 1st Saturna Lamb Barbecue.
In less than 10 years, SIMRES has become a successful non-profit organization in the Salish Sea. Our goal of establishing a research station on Saturna Island continues as we connect the dots between researchers, educational institutions, governments, private companies, and funding.