The Discovery Passage Aquarium is holding its first educational event since opening its doors June 8

Keeping an eye on the whales of the west coast

A total of 23 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises can be found in the waters off Campbell River

Have a whale of a time on Thursday, June 20 when the Discovery Passage Aquarium and the Sierra Club of Quadra Island will be hosting an event led by Caitlin Birdsall, Coordinator of the BC Cetaceans Sighting Network.

A total of 23 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises can be found in our waters, six of which are endangered or threatened. Information about their movements and activities can help scientists to inform conservation and recovery decisions.

“With such a large coastline, collecting information can be very expensive and challenging,” says Birdsall. “Observations made by the public can be so important to add to our knowledge. The BC Cetacean Sighting Network allows the public to participate by reporting their sightings online or by calling 1-866-I-SAW-ONE.”

Deb Cowper, Aquarium Manager, says, “Education is a primary goal of the Discovery Passage Aquarium and we are very happy to host this opportunity to share information about these amazing creatures. The Aquarium staff will be entering our observation of a humpback whale at Discovery Pier on Sunday June 2 for starters!”

“We had the opportunity to host Cetacean Sightings as part of a two-day event on Our Oceans, our Future in January 2011,” says Robyn Budd of Sierra Club’s Quadra Island Group, “and it was definitely one of the event’s highlights.”

The BC Cetaceans Sightings Network is a joint program of the Vancouver Aquarium and Fisheries and Oceans Canada with funding from the Government of Canada Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk.  Public observers may include ferry personnel, recreational and charter boaters, and coastal residents.

“Information from remote locations is particularly interesting as we may have little or no data from these isolated places; we know Campbell River and area residents love to be on the water and we would be very appreciative to learn of their observations,” says Birdsall.

The event will start at 6 p.m. when the aquarium will open for those attending the talk. The one to one and a half hour presentation will start at 7 p.m. in the Thulin Room of the Maritime Heritage Centre. The interactive presentation includes video clips, whale vocalizations, and take-home materials. Entry for both the talk and the aquarium is by donation.

See www.discoverypassageaquarium.ca and wildwhales.org for more information or call Deb Cowper at 250-287-6179.