Importance of Research for Conservation
When it comes to porpoises, we have more questions than answers. Even harbour porpoise, the most widely distributed and most abundant of them, are only poorly understood. A lack data often means that no actions are taken to conserve a species and its habitat. Long-term research is absolutely vital to inform species and habitat management decisions to help protect porpoises and their habitats.
Our Harbour Porpoise Research Projects
Land-based study of harbour porpoise in British Columbia
Our president and lead scientist, Dr. Hall, conducted the first systematic study of harbour and Dall's porpoise in the Gulf Islands (British Columbia) back in the 1990s and helped draft the Management Plan for the Pacific Harbour Porpoise for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. We are continuing her work as we study harbour porpoise from land off the coast of British Columbia ─ in Howe Sound and in the Southern Gulf Islands. We are looking into habitat use (how the animals use the habitat), seasonal abundance (how many animals there are and how their numbers change throughout the year), site fidelity (whether the same animals return to the same spot) and the presence of mother-calf pairs.
Photo identification of harbour porpoise
Together with our partners at Pacific Mammal Research (PacMam) in the US state of Washington, we are piloting a project to identify individual harbour porpoise through photo identification. The results will provide greater insight into the daily lives of individuals and their regional movements; thereby providing ecological insight for this complex and difficult to study species. This is vital for harbour porpoise conservation, particularly in the Salish Sea where anthropogenic effects are concentrated. Our partnership will provide valuable information on Salish Sea harbour porpoise, a regional protocol for use by others around the world, and a database open to contributions.