In an effort to support Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) recovery, the Canadian federal government initiated Interim Whale Sanctuary zones in the Salish Sea in 2019 and 2020 to provide safe zones where the endangered SRKW forage. In doing so, it became apparent that consistent data on the number of whale transits in our region was lacking. Saturna resident Susie Washington Smyth initiated a SIMRES pilot project for local residents to report all whale and porpoise sightings. Residents are now able to report sightings through a dedicated Saturna portal on the Wild Whales app from the BC Cetacean Sightings Network.
This data will be extremely useful for research, compliance, and enforcement in and around the SRKW Sanctuary Zones and elsewhere in the waters around Saturna. The collected data is transferred to the Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) Science & Research and is available to all whale researchers. As the data collection grows, we look forward to improving our anecdotal numbers with more reliable statistics and improving enforcement of the sanctuary zone.
While anyone can report sightings on the Whale Report app, and several people on Saturna are already using this Network to track whales, these reports add to general data, but do not appear in the Saturna portal. We encourage Saturna users to register and become members of SIMRES in order to enter on the Saturna Portal of the BC Cetacean Sightings Network. This is to ensure consistency in reporting data.
The Whale Report app can be downloaded onto your mobile device or tablet from the App Store or the Wild Whales website (iOS or Android). Through the app, all your sightings will be listed and accessible on your device as a log.
This is a pilot project sponsored by the Saturna Island Marine Research and Education Society (SIMRES), the Saturna Environmental Education Centre (SEEC) and the Saturna Island Parks Liaison Committee (SIPLC).