A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. The federal government has committed $806,000 in funding for five research projects aimed at mitigating human-caused threats to marine mammals. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. The federal government has committed $806,000 in funding for five research projects aimed at mitigating human-caused threats to marine mammals. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)

Federal money channelled into whale protection research

Projects will help mitigate human-caused threats on B.C.’s resident killer whales

Marine mammal researchers will share in $806,000 of federal funding for projects aimed at better understanding the threats of human-caused threats on endangered whale species.

In B.C. southern resident killer whales, whose numbers are down to just 74, are the target species to benefit from the research to address their key hazards, including noise pollution, vessel strikes, and fishing gear entanglement. The results will inform federal protection measures for the endangered animals.

“As we grow Canada’s blue economy, it is imperative that we protect our marine life. Our 2020 measures to protect whales have shown that when we invest in the best data and science, industry and marine life can thrive side by side,” Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Bernadette Jordan said.

READ MORE: Researcher investigates accumulation of microplastics in B.C. whales

The funding will be channelled through two programs under the $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan.

Three projects under the Whale Detection and Collision Avoidance Initiative will develop and test technologies capable of detecting the presence of whales in near real-time.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution will receive $325,508 over two years to test ship-based infrared camera to detect whale blow holes, while the company eSonar will use $190,300 to develop a pop-up hydrophone system that will raise a communication antenna to the water’s surface upon detecting whale movement, transmitting the information

to alert networks.

The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research was funded $37,500 over two years to collaborate with international partners on North Atlantic right whale vocalizations.

Two additional projects funded under the Marine Environmental Quality Initiative aim to better understand the specific impacts on whales from shipping-related noise. The Inistitut de recherche CHORUS will receive $198,826 over two years to develop algorithms to rapidly process vast amounts of acoustic data to detect and identify whale feeding areas, distribution and sensitivity to shipping noise. The marine Animal Response Society will also receive $54,625 to study stress responses from human-caused noise.

READ MORE: Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

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