Southern Resident Killer Whales are an iconic and beloved sight in the local waters of British Columbia. Sadly, their numbers are dropping, but many people from all walks of life are uniting to help them, including Robin and Krista.
Robin grew up on the B.C. coast and has been sailing these waters for most of his life, the last nineteen years as a BC Coast Pilot. Pilots board vessels out at sea and bring them safely into the Port of Vancouver. Nobody knows the local waters like a marine pilot.
Krista works on the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority-led ECHO (Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation) program, an initiative to research and understand the impact of shipping on at-risk whales. The program is a collaboration between multiple parties, from the shipping industry to environmental groups and many more. Krista’s job is to make sense of all the research data. It’s a pretty technical job, but her kids proudly summarize it as, “Mom’s saving the whales.”
Last year the ECHO program undertook a vessel slowdown trial in order to better understand whether slower ships are quieter. Underwater noise can interfere with a whale’s ability to feed and communicate, so this trial aimed to learn more about minimizing this impact. Listening devices were used in the ocean where whales feed. Ships were asked to voluntarily slow down in that area, and industry responded with strong participation in the trial.
Robin was more than happy to help. “After doing this for a lifetime, you recognize some of the whales by their dorsal fins,” he says. “There’s a familiarity to them.” He adds, “To be part of the process to protect what we have and improve what we have is what BC Coast Pilots is all about.”
Robin and Krista are two of the people working behind the scenes to help endangered whales. We connected these two so they could chat about the results of the slowdown trial and how working together can make a difference to the welfare of local wildlife. It’s just one of the ways we’re connecting your world.