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Whale Science for Tomorrow


The Whale Science for Tomorrow Initiative was established to provide funding to Canadian universities for research on endangered whales in Canadian waters. This joint collaboration between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) supports research that will aid the recovery of the Southern Resident Killer Whale, North Atlantic Right Whale, and St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga.

The Initiative aims to encourage collaboration and innovation by providing funding for large-scale, university-based whale research projects focused on the health of these whales and the stressors affecting them. The results from the selected projects will ensure decision-makers have the latest information necessary when deciding the best protection and conservation efforts related to these priority whale species.

Three research projects, selected by a volunteer evaluation committee of representatives from academic and non-academic institutions, will receive investments under the Whale Science for Tomorrow initiative:

Testing whether the availability of Chinook Salmon is sufficient to support a healthy Southern Resident Killer Whale population

University of British Columbia – $1 million over 5 years

The poor body condition of Southern Resident Killer Whales in recent years points to an insufficiency of Chinook Salmon, the whales' preferred prey. Researchers will employ a variety of methods, including the tracking of both predator and prey, to determine if this population is able to meet its nutritional needs. This work will have implications for fisheries management and whale conservation, while broadening the base for recovery research and fostering the development of young scientists.

Saving whales with innovative monitoring and mitigation

Dalhousie University – $1 million over 4 years

Knowledge of the presence and distribution of North Atlantic Right Whales in Canada is key to the conservation and recovery of these marine mammals. Researchers 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. This multidisciplinary research initiative will involve the collaboration of organizations in Canada and worldwide.

Occurrence and health impacts of environmental contaminants on the endangered St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga

Université du Québec à Montréal – $905,000 over 5 years

The endangered St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga inhabits a marine ecosystem greatly impacted by human activities. Its population of about 900 has not shown any signs of recovery in recent years. Researchers will use a range of innovative techniques to advance their knowledge of the whale's exposure to environmental contaminants and their impacts on this beluga population.

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