A Quadra-based whale conservationist is fundraising to be “response ready” for when humpback whales and other marine mammals need help.
Tristan Ray-Wilks, a Quadra Island resident and a director with Cetus Research and Conservation Society (CRCS) is raising funds on GoFundMe to launch a response and monitoring program that will provide assistance to distressed cetaceans spotted along the coastline of Vancouver Island.
A personal initiative, the pilot project comes after a summer of dealing with humpback entanglements near Vancouver Island that saw an increased number of the whales return to the area.
Ray-Wilks and his Straitwatch Quadra team – a segment of CRCS – were part of disentanglement operations that the BC Marine Mammal Response Network and Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) carried out in July when four whales were reported entangled within a week near Campbell River and the central coast.
The funds will be used for operational costs and to buy specialized gears such as GoPros, satellite drones etc.
Technology is an asset for whale conservationists as technically – as per federal mandate – no one except DFO sanctioned personnel are allowed to disentangle a large whale.
“We’re not allowed to interfere with any entanglements. However, we can observe the animal with GoPros and drones and get a better look at an animal, without coming close to it,” said Ray-Wilks. This way the information can be sent to the DFO ahead of their arrival.
The project will also look at obtaining and recording physical health data of cetaceans when they are in B.C.’s waters.
Ray-Wilks is hoping to reach a goal of $10,000 and said that any unused money will be donated to CRCS’s Straitwatch programs in B.C.