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Canada announces scientific research investments to protect endangered whales

March 9, 2019

The University of British Columbia, Dalhousie University and the Université du Québec à Montréal will receive a total of $2.9 million in funding from the Government of Canada under its Whale Science for Tomorrow initiative. The funds are for scientific research on the Southern resident killer whale, the North Atlantic right whale and the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga.

A joint initiative between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Whale Science for Tomorrow are intended to strengthen the ability of Canadian universities to support the federal government’s whale conservation objectives, while preparing the next generation of scientists to ensure the long-term conservation and recovery of these endangered whales.

The investment will facilitate Canadian whale experts advancing the existing knowledge of the threats that face these marine mammals. The improved understanding will provide decision-makers and policy advisors with the information they need to develop innovative solutions to support enhanced recovery efforts. The investment will support approximately 24 jobs over the next two to four years.

Three research projects were selected by a volunteer evaluation committee of representatives from academic and non-academic institutions. They will encompass a range of activities:

  • Researchers from Dalhousie University will advance North Atlantic right whale assessment and monitoring technology to quantify risks and develop solutions to protect these whales in a changing ocean environment. Eight jobs will be supported by the government investment.
  • University of British Columbia researchers will employ a variety of methods, including tracking and monitoring, to determine if Southern resident killer whales are able to forage for enough of their preferred prey, Chinook salmon, to meet their daily nutritional needs. Five jobs will be supported by the government investment.
  • Researchers from the Université du Québec à Montréal will use innovative techniques to advance their knowledge of the exposure of St. Lawrence Estuary belugas to marine contaminants and assess the impacts on this population. Eleven jobs will be supported by this investment.

The new partnerships and scientific results produced by these research initiatives will strengthen decision-making, resource management and conservation strategies to support the recovery of these whales in Canadian waters.